James Reimer

Leafs goalie coach: “We’ve got two young kids in the net”

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Less than 24 hours after Jonas Gustavsson’s shaky performance in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Devils, Leafs goaltending coach Francois Allaire met with reporters this morning to address arguably the biggest weakness on a Toronto team that’s dropping perilously close to out of the playoff picture.

Allaire’s message? Toronto’s goaltending duo is inexperienced, so…yeah, that’s the way it is.

“We’ve got two young kids in the net,” Allaire said, referring to Gustavsson, 27, and James Reimer, 23. “Not a lot of experience. Nobody has more than 90 games in the NHL. So that’s normal and we’re right in the middle of [the playoff race].

“We’ll see if we’re strong enough to get through.”

There, feel better, Leafs fans? The goalies are inexperienced. What are you gonna do? /shrugs shoulders.

If Toronto misses the playoffs again, expect general manager Brian Burke to face sharp criticism for rolling the dice with two unproven netminders.

True, Reimer — the uncontested starter out of training camp — suffered a concussion early in the season and that likely affected his performance after getting back into the lineup. However, the fact remains that Burke gambled on a kid with just 35 starts under his belt on a team that faces enormous pressure to make the playoffs.

As the Feb. 27 trade deadline approaches, it’ll be interesting to see if Burke pursues a veteran goalie like former Leaf Jean-Sebastien Giguere or Islanders starter Evgeni Nabokov, because if the Leafs don’t at least make the playoffs, the knives will be out in Toronto.

In Jets return, Burmistrov delivers headshot to Bergeron (Updated)

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Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.

Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:

Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).

The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.

Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…

Two-for-two: Another successful coach’s challenge as Sens reverse Kane’s goal

Dave Cameron
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Coaches are quickly getting the hang of this challenge thing.

Following Mike Babcock’s successful challenge in Toronto’s opening-night loss to Montreal on Wednesday, Babcock’s provincial rival — Sens head coach Dave Cameron — got it right as well, successfully reversing Evander Kane‘s would-be equalizer in the third period.

From the league:

At 10:34 of the third period in the Senators/Sabres game, Ottawa requested a Coach’s Challenge to review whether Buffalo was off-side prior to Evander Kane’s goal.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Linesman determined that Buffalo’s Zemgus Girgensons was off-side prior to the goal. According to Rule 78.7, “The standard for overturning the call in the event of a ‘GOAL’ call on the ice is that the Linesman, after reviewing any and all available replays and consulting with the Toronto Video Room, determines that one or more Players on the attacking team preceded the puck into the attacking zone prior to the goal being scored and that, as a result, the play should have been stopped for an “Off-side” infraction; where this standard is met, the goal will be disallowed.”

Therefore the original call is overturned – no goal Buffalo Sabres.

The clock is re-set to show 9:32 (10:28 elapsed time), when the off-side infraction occurred.

As the league later noted, this was the first coach’s challenge under the offside scenario.