Leafs’ Reimer: “I want to come in and show that I can be the starter”

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After a disappointing, injury-riddled campaign and an offseason filled with rumors, James Reimer is focusing on just one thing:

Being Toronto’s No. 1 goalie next year.

That’s what the 24-year-old told TSN on Thursday, saying he wants to get back to his form of two seasons ago. That was when he appeared in a career-high 37 games, posted a 20-10-5 record with a .921 save percentage and 2.60 GAA — and became Toronto’s starting goalie.

“That’s the goal,” Reimer said. “That’s the goal ever since you’re three years old, whether you had a great year or a tough year is to go in there and prove that you’re the starter.”

The problem, of course, is some are skeptical that Reimer can be the starter. His 2011-12 season ended with sub-par numbers — 14-14-4, .900 save percentage, 3.10 GAA — and an admission from Leafs GM Brian Burke that he was looking to upgrade the goaltending position (hence the Roberto Luongo rumors.)

Burke later cooled on the need to upgrade in goal, but didn’t exactly offer Reimer an endorsement in the process. He stated he’s “prepared to go forward” with Reimer and Ben Scrivens, who spent last year with the AHL Marlies. It was more a backing of the tandem rather than Reimer as the No. 1 — but that’s hardly prevented Reimer from saying he’s out to prove he’s the starter.

Again.

“That’s what I wanted to do last year and that’s what I want to do again this year coming into camp,” he said. “I want to come in and show that I can be the starter and that they need to look nowhere else.”

Related: Is Burke really going to roll the dice with Reimer again?

Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

Video will be added to give you better context for the goal, but until then, check out this GIF of the key moments:

The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

Hmm.

Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

(Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

For more on the three finalists, click here.