Sunday, October 05, 2008

Put the Bark in the Dog and you've got a Guardian

In terms of foreshadowing, the preseason is a pretty useless tool.

In the 2007-08 pre-season, the Penguins only won a single match, TJ Hensick was challenging for the scoring title and the Sens went 7-0 (a record like that likely called for one helluva team party, say maybe in mid-November).

That said, I have to admit to being awfully disappointed in the play of Curtis Joseph who's looked rather Raycroftian in his starts to date.

Clearly, Cujo was brought in as a one-year stop gap to ensure Pogge gets 65+ starts with the Marlies. And it's not like Cujo is expected to shoulder any sort of workload. I can't see him getting more than 15 starts and it's going to take five to sort out if he's just rusty or if he's done. If it's just rust, the whole thing ends there. No story, no big deal.

But if he can't even provide stop-gap level play for those remaining 10 to 12 games, what's the team to do? Or, more importantly, do they even do anything about it?

There are some interesting sub-plots here.

If Pogge is tearing it up in the AHL, the Leafs need to ensure Toskala gets an adequate, and not too strenious, workload so that he's positioned for optimal trade value at the deadline. And if they can't throw Cujo between the pipes, do they ride Toskala at the risk of injury or fatigure diminishing his potential trade value?

If Cujo needs to go, the Leafs have $10M in cap space, but it's not like the remaining UFA goalies are any sort of upgrade (to say the least).

Then again, at a time when expectations have never been lower, maybe it's ok to have a goalie who aspires make every shot a rematch of Allan Bester v. Sergio Momesso. Vesa gets his rest, the team goes with the status quo and each Cujo start puts them one step closer to Tavares or Hedman.

I'm not sure what the outcome will be, but in a season that seems to be about everything but winning, this is one more intriguing storyline to watch.


  1. I'm kind of worried about Cujo, too. But I don't want to shine too bright a light on the pre-season. Cujo's a pro, he's been around a long, long time. I'm confident he'll get the job done, just like he did last year in Calgary (9 games, .906 save percentage).

    But you are right, the goaltending, especially Pogge's progress, proves to be a huge story this year. Hopefully the Marlies can once again be a top team and this time Pogge gets to be the main man during a long playoff run.

  2. Cujo did well for Calgary, what worries me are the circumstances surrounding his play. He dropped out of the Coyotes in favour of Alex Auld and Mikael Tellqvist, and went off to play in Europe where he got a chance to play as a starter and get into the rhythm against weaker opposition. After he'd played a decent amount of games and got his timing back, Calgary signed him at the trade deadline to go down the stretch.

    Can we believe that Cujo will get the practice he needs to find his rhythm again while riding the pine? What if he seriously needed that time in Europe? Can we afford to suffer through a potentially extensive warm-up period?