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Tough Year For Leafs Netminders

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
Vesa Toskala is blowing town and Martin Gerber isn’t far behind.

Gerber will have his 12th and final game for the Leafs Saturday against his old teammates, the Ottawa Senators.

Throw in some ugly work from Justin Pogge, (4.35 goals against average and .844 goals against average) and you have some of the shoddiest Leafs defence in a long time.

The Leafs haven’t been last in goals against since 1981-82. That’s 27 years or eight years longer than Luke Schenn has been alive, but that’s were they will be come Saturday night’s finale.

Vesa Toskala, ousted from the lineup by groin and hip surgeries in early March, insists injuries weren’t the cause of his .891 goals against average and 3.26 goals against.


Toskala said he went ahead with the surgeries when it became clear the post-season wasn’t in the cards.

“I probably wouldn’t have done it at all if it was closer to the playoffs,” he said.

Toskala’s statistics were .14 lower than his career average in save percentage and a whopping .59 goals higher in the goals against.

Toskala refused to concede he had an off-year despite all statistical evidence to the contrary.

“I feel I could play. I think I played all right. That (injuries) is the price of playing in the league.”

Earlier this season, before his injuries became public, Toskala was criticized by coach Ron Wilson and GM Brian Burke for his practice habits. Toskala said then he would comment at season’s end but the 31-year-old Finn had obviously reconsidered.

“I can’t control what anyone else says in the media,” he said about the remarks.

Toskala, who has one more year left on his contract, was unsure whether next season will be better.

“I’m not expecting easier things than last year. It’s a long process.”

Gerber, meanwhile, heads into an uncertain summer. He will bring a 3.34 GAA and .901 save percentage into the Ottawa game.

Gerber, who spent half the season in the American Hockey League, is hopeful of a return to the league but at 35, that will probably come as a back-up.

“Overall, playing here was really a great experience. I think things are going in the right direction.”

Curtis Joseph, the loser in a 3-1 decision to Buffalo on Wednesday, is 41 and will probably not be resigned.


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