By winning seven straight starts, Jonas Gustvasson has raised an interesting pickle for the Maple Leafs next season. He’s currently making $900,000 this season and will probably earn double that next season before he hits the market as a restricted free agent. Jiggy is making seven million dollars next season and six mil counts against the cap.
So do the Leafs believe that Gustavsson is a viable number one goaltender for next season and trade Giguere for a top six forward or keep him around for insurance in case the young Swede can’t carry through on some sterling play as of late? Either way, it makes for an interesting discussion point as the Maple Leafs finish out the string. What can’t be denied is Gustavsson has the requisite talent to be a starter in this league and by virtue of his size, positioning and rebound control has made wondrous strikes in his inaugural campaign. Since both goalies play similar styles and are both devotees of the Francois Allaire school of goaltending, at least the Maple Leafs have some stability it appears between the pipes.RAPTORS
In a difficult four-game stretch the Toronto Raptors went 1-3. Hardly inspiring. But that win against Charlotte certainly was. Consider -- it was the second night of a back-to-back, the club had suffered a blowout loss to the Jazz, lost on a buzzer beater to Denver, and squandered a 17-point lead to the Heat the night before.
It would’ve been easy to lick their wounds and acquiesce against a team with the fourth-most home wins in the Eastern Conference in Charlotte. Especially since the Raptors hadn’t scored more than 100 points in three straight games and are just 5-18 this season when that happens. But instead, the Raptors showed some much needed resolve in the biggest win of the season thus far. Shooting 51 per cent from the field and becoming the first team to hit the century mark against Charlotte in 14 games, the Raptors now have a demonstrably easier sked for the final nine games of the season. In my view, they can go 6-3 and will likely finish 5-4.
I’m counting wins against the Clippers, Warriors, Bulls, Pistons and Knicks with potential losses against Philly (not very good, but on the road), Cleveland, Boston and Atlanta. Add it up and the Raptors finish right at even steven, 41-41, which will be good enough to get into the playoffs.
They also hold the tiebreaker with Charlotte so could finish seventh and face the Magic rather than the vaunted Cavaliers in the first round. Regardless, the Bulls have a tougher remaining schedule and the Raptors, after a potentially season-changing win in NASCAR country, hold their fate in their own hands. Although it’s admirable of Derrick Rose to guarantee that the Bulls will make the playoffs as an eight seed and face the Cavs, I just don’t see it happening. OTHER STUFF ON MY MIND
- In the interest of satisfying my considerable south asian following, I enjoyed the Atif Aslam concert Sunday at Ricoh Coliseum. My wife described him as the Pakistani Justin Timberlake which helps explain the massive squeals and shrieks from the female audience whenever he would begin a new popular song (which I had never heard of and amusingly played along, bopping my head and mouthing absolutely nothing). Sadly there was no version of Sexy Back in his arsenal.
- While channel surfing on the weekend, I found a program which listed Owen Wilson as the 91st sexiest celebrity. Yes, the same Owen Wilson with the busted up nose. The commentator explained, “his nose and its imperfection makes him look more attractive.” If that’s the case, then Kirstie Alley is drop dead gorgeous and Ricky Gervais is the envy of every man I know.
- I also watched the bollywood comedy 3 Idiots
. The scene of the guy in a stars and stripes speedo doing a James Bond impression was hysterical and horrifying, much like the Lady Gaga video featuring Beyonce. It’s a 21st century Thelma and Louise with a Russ Meyer influence explaining the scantily clad women in prison. Do you think Gaga wakes up and says, “what’s the wackiest thing I could wear that makes no sense at all?”
- I’m in denial that my beloved Eagles are trading my all-time favourite player in Donovan McNabb. I would never turn my back on my team that I’ve followed for 20 years but there will be genuine hostility if D-Mac is indeed dealt to the Raiders.
- Nice to see John Cusack officially mailing in his career. After noteworthy films that earned him critical acclaim but no Oscar nominations, he has now churned out 1408
and Hot Tub Machine
which restored my faith in moviegoers by only opening in third place with $13.7 million.