James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs guards the net during an NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on March 17, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
(March 16, 2012 - Source: Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images North America)

Reimer vs Bernier — Who ya got?

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For the first time in what seems like a very long time, goaltending isn’t expected to be a weakness for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With James Reimer, 25, and Jonathan Bernier, 24, between the pipes next season, the Leafs will have one netminder who boasted a .924 save percentage in 2013 (Reimer) and another (Bernier) who was only slightly less efficient, at .922.

In fact, new MLSE president Tim Leiweke believes the Leafs “have the best tandem of goalkeepers in the NHL.”

Still, questions remain.

Lots of questions.

Like: If Reimer had such a good year, why did the Leafs feel the need to give up forward Matt Frattin, backup Ben Scrivens and a second-round pick to get Bernier out of L.A., where he was stuck behind Jonathan Quick? Does management have something against Reimer, or does Bernier simply just increase the team’s odds of getting quality goaltending?

“It makes you feel a bit doubted as a goalie,” Reimer admitted, per the Toronto Sun.

“You just have to focus on what you can control and believe in yourself.”

Another question: What has Bernier really proven? He’s only started 54 regular-season games in the NHL. He’s never felt the pressure that number ones feel at the highest level. He’s never started a playoff game. And when it comes to media scrutiny, Toronto is a tad more intense than Los Angeles.

When Bernier was acquired, Leafs general manager Dave Nonis suggested that the starting job was open for competition.

“Nothing is being guaranteed to anybody,” Nonis said, per the Toronto Star. “It’s a situation where we feel we’re deeper. We feel they both have great potential.

“We feel we have two of the top young goaltenders in the league right now. Both we feel have the potential to be solid No. 1s.”

And really, it’s hard to argue with that. Neither Reimer nor Bernier cost much in the way of cap hit; the former’s is $1.8 million next season, the latter’s $2.9 million. If one falters, that’s what the other is there for. If both play well, the Leafs have a nice trade chip to play down the road.

And if both falter? Well, there’s always that possibility. But then, that exists for every team. Goaltending is a tough thing to predict. Just look at the St. Louis Blues — they got fantastic performances from their netminders in 2011-12 (.929 save percentage); this past season, not so much (.902).

“Overall, I felt I played well this past season,” said Reimer. “I feel like I’ve established myself as a No. 1 goalie in this league.”

But he’ll have to re-establish himself in 2013-14, because there’s another guy now.

“I’ve been waiting for that, to get my chance,” Bernier said. “When you get your chance, you’ve got to take it.”

Related: It’s Toronto Maple Leafs on PHT

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.