Reimer steals one for Leafs, puts some heat on Bernier?


It might not be safe to assume that James Reimer will be Jonathan Bernier’s backup in Toronto just yet.

Reimer was absolute magnificent for the Maple Leafs on Tuesday, especially compared to Minnesota Wild netminder Darcy Kuemper. The Wild generated a whopping 37-14 shot disparity, yet they were only able to beat Reimer once, as the Leafs won 4-1.

Jason Pominville was the lone goal-scorer for Minnesota in the first period of tonight’s game, even though the Wild dominated that frame the most with a ridiculous 17-3 shot advantage. Worse yet … the Leafs scored on two of those three shots.

Josh Harding had been playing well in Niklas Backstrom’s injury-driven absence; when you combine that with Kuemper’s disastrous night, many will question frequently-doubted head coach Mike Yeo. Still, it’s important to note that Harding played on Monday and that the Wild might have his serious health challenges in mind.

Regardless, the Leafs remain a captivating team to follow, as they continue to defy the odds – and stat nerds – by winning games by some combination of luck, quality scoring chances and lights-out goaltending.

Can the Reimer – Bernier battle sustain them to another playoff run? With an NHL-leading 12 points in seven games, the Buds certainly have a great head start.

Head coach Randy Carlyle isn’t complaining this time around, as Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports.

“Not every win is going to be a work of art,” Carlyle said.

It was a masterpiece for Reimer’s fans, though.

Bruins’ second line officially goes under the microscope

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While much has been written about the Boston Bruins’ depleted defense, there’s also a good amount of intrigue about the forward group, which will look dramatically different tonight compared to last year’s season opener.

Here are the Bruins’ expected lines versus the Jets:

Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronLoui Eriksson
Matt BeleskeyDavid KrejciDavid Pastrnak
Jimmy HayesRyan SpoonerBrett Connolly
Chris KellyJoonas KemppainenZac Rinaldo

The line most under the microscope may be that second one. In today’s Boston Globe, there’s a lengthy story on Krejci. The 29-year-old center with the big contract only played 47 games last season due to injuries. He finished with just 31 points.

So, where is Krejci’s game now?

Then there’s free-agent addition Matt Beleskey, a.k.a. Milan Lucic‘s replacement. Prior to scoring 22 times last year for the Ducks, the 27-year-old Beleskey had never tallied more than 11 goals in a season.

So, is Beleskey a legitimate top-six forward?

On the other wing, it’s David Pastrnak, the 19-year-old who, somewhat surprisingly, emerged as one of the top rookies in the league last year.

So, can Pastrnak take another step forward?

“It’s been a good three plus weeks where we’ve been able to kind of work individually, as a group, as a line, with different players and different personalities,” said coach Claude Julien. “We’re pleased with it. We’re optimistic and we just have to let things work themselves out too.”

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks