Coming in cold against Montreal with in the Bell Centre, in a tense game, probably isn’t an ideal way to win the fans back. Defending the pipes against Boston, when they decide (for the lone game this season) to show everyone what a Cup winner looks like, isnâ€™t exactly walk in the park either (insert an Ilya Bryzgalov joke here).
I actually think those games combined, coupled with the Rangers game, show the true Jonas Gustavsson right now. When we look at Monster’s fundamentals, which still aren’t good, it’s really easy just to blame it on his development. But we have to remember that his development also wasn’t quite a walk in the park. It was because of this that youâ€™ll still continue to see holes in some of the more fundamental aspects of play, until he himself realizes that those mistakes cost you games. Iâ€™m a strong believer in goaltending coaches, but I also think you can only do so much without experience.
On the other hand, on a night like the one in the MSG, you can clearly see the pure, God given, natural ability he has at his disposal. This is why a lot of teams were salivating at the possibility of signing this guy. Great flexibility, giant frame and good reflexes for his size. You can read more about his qualities here (GoalieGuild rules). That pure ability is what makes him worth waiting for.
One question remains? Has the guy really done enough to deserve our lack of belief in him? 68 NHL games in total. 42 of which (thatâ€™s a big number) came in his rookie year. So, since his heart and family problems, the guy only played 26 games in 2 seasons with the big club. Weâ€™re saying that all he needs is confidence, but how can he get more confident if all heâ€™s playing is tough back to back stretches where he has to face a hungry team like Boston. You can only do so much in practice.
Realistically, I donâ€™t think confidence is the main issue. An issue sure, but not the main issue. I think the issue here is development. His age has nothing to do with it. The age factor comes into play when we consider maturity, composure etc. But for a European goalie age means much less than an opportunity for proper NHL development, which I think we can agree he hasnâ€™t really had.
The guy was 24 when he first came to Toronto. After only a small time frame people were expecting him to become our starting goaltender. First he had to adapt to the North American game, then he had to have Allaire coach out some things from his game but it was there that he stalled. Three heart surgeries, a family tragedy donâ€™t quit fit into the developmental process and this is probably why weâ€™re seeing Gus lacking polish.
Jonas Gustavsson isnâ€™t an NHL starting goaltender at this point. At this point, he might not even be a solid backup. But, considering everything, my point is that even with him being 27 heâ€™s still in an earlier to middle stage of his NHL development so I think the smart thing to do is to just wait him out. And who knows, maybe we give him a chance to actually start a few games before hanging him out to dry, like the team does/did on most nights.