James Reimer

Leafs’ Reimer channels Burke, calls trade deadline ‘a huge distraction’

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With the Toronto Maple Leafs reportedly kicking the tires on Miikka Kiprusoff and Roberto Luongo, some are wondering what toll this has taken on James Reimer.

On Tuesday, Toronto’s No. 1 netminder — for now, anyway — let folks know.

“Honestly, it is a distraction. I mean it’s a huge distraction,” Reimer told James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail. “To not be playing is almost a benefit.

“It’s not like it would ruin your play, but it is a distraction. So it’s just one more thing you have to keep off your mind.”

The Leafs are in the midst of one of their longest breaks of the season. They haven’t played since beating Ottawa 4-0 on Saturday, and won’t play against until Thursday, one day after the trade deadline.

For Reimer and backup Ben Scrivens, the stretch is probably a blessing and a curse.

Blessing, because the incessant rumors won’t affect their on-ice play — curse, because they can’t do anything but sit and wait for things to play out.

This isn’t the first time “trade deadline is a distraction” talk has popped up in Toronto, either.

Last year, former GM Brian Burke contemplated instituting his own personalized deadline prior to the actual deadline, in order to “save” his players from the rumors and scuttlebutt.

“It’s to the point where I’m debating doing the same thing I do at Christmas, starting our own trade freeze 10 days before, that’s how distracting it is,” Burke said at the time. “Clarke MacArthur has been traded 10 times. [Mikhail] Grabovski’s been traded 12 times. [Nikolai] Kulemin has been traded. Luke Schenn has been traded 50 times.

“I think it’s remarkable the players keep their focus.”

Of course, the Leafs didn’t keep their focus — they collapsed badly down the stretch and missed the playoffs — and, just for good measure, Burke traded Schenn for the 51st time at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

If there’s a silver lining for the Leafs, it’s that neither Reimer nor Scrivens have allowed the distraction to affect their play.

Reimer sits 13th in the NHL in save percentage (.920) and Scrivens ranks 18th, at .918.

The pair have also combined to hit the 20-win plateau, a feat only eight NHL teams have accomplished heading into Tuesday night’s action.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.