By Brad Lee
The St. Louis Blues' 3-2 loss at the Ottawa Senators Thursday night was just another disappointing game in a string of disappointing games. But it was a step in the right direction for at least one Blues player.
Hannu Toivonen allowed three goals on 26 shots. Even though he earned the loss, it was a better performance than four of his last five games:
- March 14 at San Jose: 4 goals on 27 shots
- March 10 at Calgary: 3 goals on 18 shots
- Feb. 9 at Dallas: 4 goals on 15 shots
- Jan. 11 at Columbus: 6 goals on 37 shots
It all came apart for Ears Dec. 9 at Colorado. That was the Sunday night game where Toivonen allowed five goals on 15 shots -- all in the second period. He was replaced by rookie Marek Schwarz until the Blues scored two goals early in the third period to make the score 6-4. Toivonen came back out...and allowed three more goals for a total of eight. And then he was pulled...for the second time in the game. Similar to accidentally walking in on one of your parents' naked wrestling sessions, the Colorado game may have scarred Hannu for life.
To that point in the season, Toivonen was 5-3-0 and hadn't allowed more than three goals in a game. Including the Colorado debacle, he's 0-6-3. The biggest change has been in Toivonen's visible confidence. He just doesn't look comfortable making even the most routine of saves. As the commenters in the live blog/open thread Thursday night noted, he's looking better, more steady -- probably as steady as a young European rookie playing behind the third worst team in the NHL can look.
What's really amazing is the number of photos we've seen with Toivonen getting beaten like a rented mule.
Against Edmonton (again):
Against San Jose:
Against Ottawa (again):
There might be more photos on the Internets of Hannu allowing goals in every way you can imagine compared with any other backup goaltender in the NHL. And he's only played seven times since Jan. 1. Path. Et. Ic.
We are completely on board with the idea of Toivonen starting the majority of games the rest of the way (there's only eight left, THANK GOD). As Andy Murray said Thursday, the team has to know what they have with him. Even if Ears pulls it together and plays well, I can't imagine there's any chance Toivonen will be the backup next season.
What do you think of Hannu Toivonen and his future with the Blues?