Over the past month, we’ve seen Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen undergo his typical seasonal metamorphosis from a gross October cocoon, into a beautiful November butterfly. As his play improved, the team around him has seemingly become far more comfortable in letting him completely bail them out on numerous occasions.
I guess this disease is contagious. Because, once the Marlies stepped on the ACC ice, it began to look like they had contracted it as well.
Look, it’s easy to lean on your goaltender when he’s a flippin’ mutant. Garret Sparks is far and away the best goaltender in the AHL. Like, it’s not even close. In fact, the written medium has not provided me with descriptive tools accurate enough to convey his sheer dominance.
It’s just that leaning COMPLETELY on one player to win you a game may not be the best strategy. Johnsson told me as much when I asked him about Sparks following Saturday’s game:
"“When we as a team don’t play well, Sparks saves us,”"
For the love of god, either Sparks or Calvin Pickard will inevitably get called up to the Leafs. One of them needs to mercifully replace the wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube man that is Curtis McElhinney.
When that happens, the Marlies won’t be able to lean on their goaltenders the way they currently do. It will be undoubtedly interesting to see how this talented team responds to playing without a safety net.