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Wilson defends Giguere: 'It's not Giggy's fault'

Christian Petersen/2011 Getty Images

Even when the Toronto Maple Leafs lose 4-0, there's a goalie controversy.

The vast majority of questions that coach Ron Wilson faced today were over his choice of Jean-Sebastien Giguere in goal last night against the Florida Panthers instead of rookie James Reimer, another pivotal game the Leafs played extremely poorly in.

Struggling through various groin injuries all season, Giguere hadn't played a full game in more than a month and was shaky on a couple of the goals.

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Wilson defended his decision after practice by pointing to the 33-year-old's credentials.

"Shame on me for playing a Stanley Cup winner, a Conn Smythe Trophy winner who's, up until he got injured, our No. 1 goalie," he said. "I haven't seen Reims score a goal yet or lead a 2-on-1 rush and the timing was perfect.

"We had a plan and I told everybody what the plan was last week, that Giggy was going to play in one of those back-to-back games. He did. But it wasn't Giggy's fault. We didn't generate anything. If we looked tired, it was the skaters up front from the fact we had to play seven [games]in 11 [nights]or seven in 12, something like that.

"We didn't really generate any offence at all and it had nothing to do with our goaltender."

Reimer had played a night earlier in a 3-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, a game in which he was terrific after a poor showing in a lopsided loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday.

Reimer also won both back-to-back games at the start of the month against Pittsburgh and Philadelphia and is 14-7-4 on the year. (Giguere is 11-11-4, but hasn't won a game on the road since mid-December.)

The 23-year-old rookie, however, looks up to Giguere in a big way, as the veteran has become a bit of a mentor to him since he was recalled from the minors.

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"I think it's a little ridiculous," Reimer said. "He's a world-class goaltender ... He's a heckuva goaltender. I'm just trying to learn from him everyday. He's got so much skill and he makes things look so easy out there. I wish I was half the goaltender he was. I sure hope none of that stuff gets around to him."

No such luck, however, not in a place like Toronto, where the attention can be suffocating. Giguere acknowledged this season has been a difficult one, but that he is trying to stay optimistic.

"What am I going to do?" he said. "You can't change what happened this year. It's not the season I would have hoped, there's no doubt. If you factor in all the injuries that I've had, it makes for a tough season to have any kind of momentum."

Wilson, meanwhile, hasn't paid any attention to the uproar over his choices in goal.

"Is there being a fuss made?" he asked. "I don't know. I don't even pay attention to it. So. I don't listen. Why would I listen to call-in shows? You know, seriously?

"If Giggy wins last night or if I play Reimer and we lose 4-0, the exact same thing would have been said. 'Why would he play Reimer back-to-back?' I had full confidence Giggy could get the job done, but we didn't play well in front of Giggy. It's not Giggy's fault."

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Reimer will get the start tomorrow against the Boston Bruins and could well play the team's final 10 games of the season.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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