Garret Sparks called out his teammates for being emotionless after an embarrassing loss to Ottawa on Saturday. Now slated to start against Buffalo, can Sparks show up in this could-be statement game?
I’ve teeter-tottered on Garret Sparks being the Leafs backup. My interest was peaked in him as he quickly outgrew the talent of the ECHL with the Solar Bears. I then watched him crush it with solid consistency in the AHL with the Marlies. Now, it’s been a white knuckle ride as he’s struggled for that ECHL success and that AHL consistency.
To the Sparks haters I ask this: what do you get out of constantly berating him with offside comments about his play? What good does that do? Why does it have to be all criticism without any constructive? I understand he’s had some howlers this season, but no credit when he plays well?
Actually, in his last three appearances, Sparks has been playing well! He’s also had to relieved Andersen twice, which is something he hasn’t had to do too much in his Maple Leafs career. He came in cold and came up with saves where his team needed him.
(Relief) Tampa Game: 2 GA, 21 saves, .913 save percentage
(Relief) Chicago Game: 1 GA, 24 saves, .960 save percentage
(Start) Ottawa Game: 6 GA, 38 saves, .864 save percentage
Not bad up until that Ottawa game, right? Agreed, although in the Sens debacle Sparks was a revelation in the first period. Sparks played so well, making Andersen-esque saves time after time in an attempt to build up some momentum for his team. Instead, the Leafs continued to allow a rookie-laden Sens team pen them in and eventually break down Sparks.
Life after losing to Ottawa
After that awful team performance Sparks had this to say:
Who says the Leafs don’t need a captain? Why is Sparks getting interviewed post game? Who on this team takes the brunt of the media when the team plays poorly? Lately, it’s been a rotating door of different players forced into answering questions that they don’t really know how to answer as Sparks exemplified above.
Either way, he’s called out his teammates for playing without emotion and now needs to show up against the Sabres. Buffalo has a fast, skilled, and under-performing team that can put up goals at will. It will be a tough test for Sparks tonight who needs to back up his comments and lead from the crease.