James Reimer

“Comfortable” Reimer to make fifth straight start for Leafs


The player deposed Leafs GM Brian Burke never stopped believing could be a top goalie in the NHL is playing a lot like a top goalie in the NHL.

As such, James Reimer is expected to make his fifth straight start tonight when Toronto hosts Carolina.

Reimer, 24, is 3-2-0 with a .922 save percentage and 2.46 GAA. On Saturday, he stopped 33 of 34 Boston shots in a 1-0 loss.

Of note, Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle is quick to credit new goalie coach Rick St. Croix — who replaced Francois Allaire (who didn’t leave on the best terms) in September — for Reimer’s improved play.

“I think [Reimer’s] comfortable,” Carlyle said recently. “Rick St. Croix has had a measured amount of change with him and that’s not throwing anybody under the bus that was previously here. It’s just a different approach in some things.

“He looks confident. It looks like a lot of pucks are hitting him, because he’s in the right position. We’ve tried to make him a little more aggressive in certain situations. All those things are a culmination of a player coming into camp in the best shape he’s been in and in the right frame of mind.”

Habs claim Byron off waivers from Flames

Paul Byron
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Montreal added some forward depth on Tuesday, acquiring diminutive forward Paul Byron off waivers from Calgary.

Byron, 26, is a veteran of nearly 150 career NHL games, most coming with the Flames. Despite fairly solid production over the last two years — 40 points in 104 games — he was exposed to waivers on Monday, along with fellow forward Mason Raymond.

(Calgary does have a logjam of players at forward, hence parting ways with Byron and Raymond.)

Byron can play both wing and center but, at 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, is one of the most undersized skaters in the league. Thankfully for him, Montreal has an affinity for undersized forwards, with the likes of Brendan Gallagher (5-foot-9, 184 pounds) and David Desharnais (5-foot-7, 174 pounds) already on the active roster.

Byron could also fill Zack Kassian‘s roster spot. Kassian is currently suspended without pay while undergoing Stage 2 of the NHL’s Substance Abuse program.

Isles claim goalie Berube off waivers

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jaroslav Halak
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The New York Islanders have claimed goalie Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings, the club announced today.

Berube won the Calder Cup last season with AHL Manchester, but the 24-year-old has yet to appear in an NHL game.

That the Isles claimed Berube could be evidence that Jaroslav Halak will not be ready to start the season after all.

If that’s the case, Berube would back up Thomas Greiss, with Stephon Williams expected to go to the AHL.

The Isles open their regular season Friday at home versus the Blackhawks, then play the next day in Chicago.