TORONTO-The Abbotsford Heat will need to find an answer for goaltender Ben Scrivens if they want to stay alive in their Western Conference semi-final match-up with the Toronto Marlies.
Abbotsford outshot Toronto 36-17, and at one point in the second period 23-8, but Scrivens turned aside 35 shots for a 3-1 victory on Tuesday night.
Scrivens is proving just how important goal tending is for Toronto, even though it’s his first time in the AHL playoffs, as they now have a 3-1 series lead.
“We had big games in college,” said the Cornell grad. “College level’s single game elimination. You try to use that in this type of format because you never want to think we can spot a team a game or two.”
The Spruce Grove, Alberta native has stopped 118 of 123 shots in the series and his goals against average is a minimal 1.27. Including the Marlies’ three-game sweep of the Rochester Americans, Scrivens is now 6-1 with a 1.58 GAA and .945 SV% in the 2012 Calder Cup playoffs.
Scrivens’ solid play so far in the post season isn’t much of a surprise, as he finished the AHL regular season as the “Hap” Holmes award winner for the starting goalie on the team with the fewest goals against, but unlike the regular season there is a lot more at stake this time of year for a player trying to prove he’s ready for the NHL.
“We have a lot of eyes out here watching us so whether your goal’s to play for the Maple Leafs, or any other NHL team, the longer you play the fewer the teams are left, the more eyes are watching and the chances are you’ll make that jump sooner or later.”
The Marlies are one win away from being in the Western Conference final for the first time since 2008 and, despite seeing action this season with the parent club Toronto Maple Leafs, the 25-year-old looks at this current playoff run as the right situation to show management that he’s ready for a promotion.
“I feel like my try out for next season is the playoffs with the Marlies,” said Scrivens. “That’s been the plan all along. The goal was to make the playoffs with the Marlies as the number three (in the system), number one down here.”
As this season’s number three, in a Leafs system searching for experience in goal, and a restricted free agent in the summer, Scrivens can only do so much when it comes to his future.
General manager Brian Burke has stated that he wants a a veteran goaltender to join James Reimer on the Leafs roster next year, which means no matter how well Scrivens plays, or how far the Marlies can go, he could be the odd man out with the Leafs.
“All I can control is what happens on the ice,” said Scrivens. “All that’s 100 percent completely out of my control. If July 1st comes and I haven’t signed and they sign a veteran, then we’ll decide then. But they could offer something before then.”
“That’s one of those things where there are a thousand scenarios that could play out. There’s no point in analyzing anything until the writing is on the wall.”
Reimer and Mark Owuya are the only goaltenders on the Leafs’ depth chart who are under contract for next season. Jonas Gustavsson will be an unrestricted free agent July 1st while Scrivens and Jussi Rynnas are both RFA’s.
What happens with Scrivens’ future with the Leafs is uncertain but he’ll continue to try and prove he’s NHL ready on Wednesday when the Marlies attempt to eliminate the Heat in Game 6.