James Reimer

Surprise! James Reimer starts against Boston tonight

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It was originally supposed to be Jonas Gustavsson’s start tonight against the Bruins, but instead it’ll mark James Reimer’s return to action as he gets the start tonight in a surprise decision by Ron Wilson.

Yesterday saw Reimer work out well in practice, but Wilson said it was virtually set that Gustavsson would get the call. Perhaps Wilson took a look at the Leafs’ last three games against the Bruins and saw they’d given up 19 goal, losing all three.

The Leafs are in need of a steadier goaltender to deal with the Bruins’ attack and in Reimer’s short time in the NHL, he’s done well against Boston. Reimer’s 3-1-0 against The Bruins with a beyond-solid .930 save percentage. Getting a marquee performance out of Reimer would go a long way in proving this budding rivalry isn’t that of the “hammer vs. nail” variety, according to Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com.

For now, we’ll see what Reimer’s got tonight. After such a long layoff, facing Boston is as close to being thrown to the wolves as you can get. A big game out of Reimer tonight would give the Leafs the confidence they need to continue their march for the playoffs.

Leafs fans rejoice: James Reimer cleared to play

James Reimer
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Those shouts of joy coming from Toronto are in response to news that James Reimer has been cleared to play.

Reimer has been out since late October after suffering a whiplash-like injury against Montreal. Whether you choose to believe the Leafs saying it was whiplash or Reimer’s mother saying it was a concussion is up to you, but either way he’s been out of action for over a month.

In the meantime, it’s been Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens holding down the fort with Gustavsson emerging as a fairly reliable guy that’s kept the Leafs humming along.

Reimer won’t get right back to action on Saturday night against Boston, however. James Mirtle reports that Ron Wilson has named Gustavsson the starter for that game — but Toronto has given up 19 goals to Boston in three games this season, so maybe we’ll see Reimer after all.

One thing’s for sure: If the Leafs can keep doing what they’re doing and Reimer returns to form, the possibility of Leafs Nation of seeing their team in the postseason becomes very real.

James Reimer’s mother is worried about him suffering from a concussion

James Reimer
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If you think the Toronto Maple Leafs are worried about James Reimer, there’s no way they can compete with the worries of his mother.

Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star caught up with Marlene Reimer to find out how her boy is doing in recovering from what the Leafs are saying are whiplash effects. Reimer has missed the Leafs’ last eight games and their hot streak has gone away with Reimer’s health. Is it whiplash though? Mrs. Reimer says she’s worried it’s a concussion.

“That’s the frustrating part for us — not knowing what it is, and why they’re not calling it a concussion when they say ‘concussion-like symptoms,’” Marlene Reimer said. “Like, how is that not a concussion? … The initial test showed him to be clear of a concussion. But as it goes on, it’s kind of mystifying. He’s okay some days. And some days he’s definitely not okay.”

If there’s one thing the Leafs and anyone in hockey should know it’s to not upset mom. You know how a mother gets when she’s worried over her child and you can’t blame her in this instance especially since it wouldn’t be his first concussion. Reimer’s first came when he was just 16 years-old.

The other side of things here is that she’s also a mom and not James’ doctor. Whether or not Reimer is concussed that’s up to the Leafs to disclose it. For now we wait to hear what Reimer’s status is and when he’ll get back, but the Leafs better step on it, you don’t want to see mom when she goes from upset to angry.

James Reimer knocked out of Leafs-Habs game after Gionta collision

James Reimer
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Is it panic time in Toronto? Starting goalie James Reimer was knocked out of tonight’s game against Montreal with what appeared to be a head injury after Canadiens forward Brian Gionta came storming through his crease. Gionta connected with Reimer’s head knocking him down and knocking his helmet off. Reimer appeared to be dazed but finished playing the first period.

When the second period started, however, it was Jonas Gustavsson taking over for Toronto and giving up a goal on the first shot he saw. Whoops.

If Reimer is hurt for an extended amount of time, the less-than-impressive Gustavsson ascends to the starting job while AHL starter, and former Cornell standout, Ben Scrivens would get the call to back up The Monster. It’s a less-than ideal situation for the Leafs if they have to do that as Reimer has proven himself worthy of being a top starter in the league. He’s been the key to the Leafs’ success so far this season so if he’s out, the confidence in Leafs Nation will be shaken to the core.

We’ll find out later how badly, if at all, Reimer is hurt. If it proves to be a concussion, the worries over his return will be more than justified.

Update: Now with video of the play.

James Reimer exhilarates Leafs fans with 32-save shutout

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs
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Don’t blame Toronto Maple Leafs fans for feeling exhilarated right now, even if it’s just one game.

The team still has unsolved questions – the most pressing one might regard the health of center Tim Connolly – but two of their wild cards came up aces in a 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens tonight. James Reimer looked sharp in his first game of the season, stopping 32 shots on his way to a shutout. Reimer earned the Maple Leafs’ first opening night shutout since Oct. 7, 2000, when the team produced another 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens. (Curtis Joseph was the Leafs goalie on that night, making 26 saves.)

Judging Reimer’s outlook based on one game is even more dangerous than assuming that his first 25 NHL games are a clear indication of the future, but it was still a great performance. The Maple Leafs were out-shot 32-18 in their season opener, but Reimer was the biggest difference-maker.

As if that wasn’t dazzling enough, the Leafs enjoyed great nights from their sometimes-criticized marquee players. That was most clearly seen in the game’s insurance goal; Phil Kessel made a heads-up play and then sent a nice pass to captain Dion Phaneuf, who rifled a shot past Carey Price.

Coming back from tough injuries

Leafs fans might have seen those performances coming, but Matthew Lombardi’s contribution was far more surprising. He didn’t just manage to play earlier than expected in his first game back from concussion issues; Lombardi notched the game-winning goal on a rebound while playing shorthanded. Lombardi and Mike Brown created a rush on the penalty kill, as a shot sent Carey Price to the ground. Price couldn’t get up in time to stop Lombardi, who pounced on a rebound to score his first goal since April 10, 2010.

Overall, it was quality over quantity for Lombardi, though. He only played a little more than 11 minutes and took just two faceoffs (which he lost). You can understand head coach Ron Wilson’s decision to ease him back into the lineup, though.

Speaking of players returning from tough injuries, Max Pacioretty played in his first regular season game since that ill-fated Zdeno Chara hit last season. The up-and-coming Habs winger played a bit more than 15 minutes, threw two hits, took four shots and had a -1 rating.

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Again, some Toronto fans are probably dreaming of watching their players shake open champagne bottles and raise the Stanley Cup, but most are reasonable enough to put this win in perspective. Seeing a sharp Reimer and a healthy Lombardi – not to mention good games from Phaneuf and Kessel – won’t make them feel glum, though, either.