Patrik Elias, James Reimer

With J.S. Giguere out, the Leafs turn to unlikely goalie duo of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens

With word that J.S. Giguere’s injury will keep him out about seven to 10 days, the Toronto Maple Leafs will turn to a very green goalie duo of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens for their game against the Ottawa Senators tonight.

Chris Johnston writes that they make an unlikely duo, as Reimer was once third on the Leafs’ depth chart while Scrivens came in at fifth.

The two became fast friends during the Maple Leafs’ training camp according to Johnston, but never expecting to be the two netminders dressing for a regular season NHL game. At least during the 2010-11 season, that is.

Yet that’s the case, as a startling rash of injuries pushed the two goalies up the team’s depth chart. Giguere was the most recent addition to a walking (or waddling, I guess, since they’re wearing goalie pads?) wounded list that included Jonas Gustavsson (minor heart surgery) and minor league netminder Jussi Rynnas (broken finger).

It’s likely that Reimer will get a nice run of starts, but Scrivens is an asset to the organization too … even if it’s just to get them through survival mode. The gang at Pension Plan Puppets points out that one of the perks of having the Toronto Marlies as their AHL affiliate is that Scrivens was able to play for the Marlies Friday and then backup Reimer tonight without traveling.

Considering the team’s goalie headaches, it’s nice to at least have one convenient thing going for them, after all.

Save of the night: James Reimer reigns supreme over the Islanders

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Aside from the occasional night off – or the even less common instance when a save or goal isn’t deemed worthy – the gang at PHT will decide which tally or stop is the best of any given night. Once those two winners are determined, we’ll share our reasoning (and most importantly, the video clip for each) in posts for your viewing pleasure.

If you’ve not heard of James Reimer yet, that just means you’re not living in Toronto. There, Reimer is quickly becoming a cult hero with Leafs faithful for his big saves and his ability to actually win games for the Leafs. The Leafs moved to within eight points of the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference after a 5-2 win over the Islanders last night and he managed to impress Leafs fans everywhere with his abilities in goal again.

In the third period with the Leafs leading 4-2, the Islanders were working the puck around the Leafs zone when it ended up on the stick of Frans Nielsen who unleashed a big slap shot through traffic. Somehow, Reimer was able to track it at the last second and make a huge glove save to keep the Isles at bay. Reimer’s popularity is big enough to warrant a nickname that would make Michael Bay’s eyebrows perk up: Optimus Reim. If he keeps up his play while making more saves like this, Leafs fans will be hoping he transforms into a playoff starting goalie this season.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

James Reimer ripple effects? Jonas Gustavsson sent down to the AHL

Jonas Gustavsson, James Reimer

In case you haven’t heard, James Reimer pitched a 27-save shutout last night. If you live in or around Toronto, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about it. (Maybe even 27 times at this point?)

While the Maple Leafs claim that they’re sending (or “loaning”) goalie Jonas Gustavsson to the minors for a conditioning stint, it appears that they really did so to give him some reps and maybe restore his wavering confidence. Yet Chemmy at Pension Plan Puppets brings up the interesting possibility that Gustavsson could face the possibility of being outplayed in the AHL by Jussi Rynaas and therefore might not resurface in the big leagues this season.

It’s been a nasty season for “The Monster,” as he put together a 6-13-2 record with ugly individual numbers (3.29 GAA and 89 save percentage). Meanwhile Reimer is becoming a minor sensation, going 5-3-0 in nine appearances with a 1.96 GAA and a 94 save percentage.

Reimer is on a darling run right now, but maintaining such numbers is unlikely. The question is: how far is “this” Reimer from the goalie we’ll see once he regresses to the mean?

Leafs fans are satisfied to get a little excited about this small sample size, though. After all these years of frustration, can you really blame them?

Reimer wants ‘to be a Leaf my whole career,’ but isn’t sure what management thinks

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James Reimer picked a great season to have a great season.

A pending unrestricted free agent, Reimer has started 21 games for the Maple Leafs and has a .937 save percentage. Of the 35 NHL goalies that have started at least 20 games this season, that’s the highest save percentage of them all.

So yeah, pretty good timing there.

Reimer, 27, reiterated today that he’d like to remain in Toronto long-term. The only thing is, he’s not sure how management feels.

“I’ve loved being a Leaf and I’d like to be a Leaf my whole career, but obviously this unrestricted thing is sometimes a weird thing,” he told reporters, per TSN’s Mark Masters.

Certainly, Reimer has to be targeting at least what Cam Talbot got (three years, $12.5 million) from the Oilers. In fact, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the “educated guess of a few NHL management types outside of Toronto is five to seven years at $4.5- to $5.5-million per season.”

Which would be a big commitment, both salary- and term-wise, for a guy that’s never started more than 35 games in a single NHL season.

Also, his save percentage was just .907 last season.

Oh, and he has limited postseason experience, just seven games in all. He was between the pipes for Toronto’s infamous first-round collapse against the Bruins in 2013. Not long after that — and perhaps because of that — the Leafs went out and got Jonathan Bernier from the Kings.

Of course, a lot has changed in Toronto since 2013. Brendan Shanahan and Lou Lamoriello are in charge of hockey operations now, and Bernier has struggled badly during Mike Babcock’s first season behind the bench. The Leafs have reportedly made Bernier available on the trade market. He has a $4.15 million cap hit through next season.

If Reimer doesn’t re-sign with the Leafs, one team that could have interest is Calgary. Flames president Brian Burke was a big fan of Reimer’s when the former was in charge of the Leafs.

Related: Lamoriello will be busy at first deadline as Leafs GM

Goalie nods: Reimer back in starter’s role for Toronto (Update: Nope, it’s Bernier)

James Reimer
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James Reimer will make his first start for the Maple Leafs since Dec. 3 tonight in Pittsburgh.

Update: No he won’t. Not long before puck drop, head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer woke up with tightness today, and the Leafs decided to shut him down immediately. So it’ll be Jonathan Bernier tonight instead, with Antoine Bibeau backing up on an emergency recall basis.

Reimer, who’s been sidelined for most of the month with an undisclosed injury, gets back into the starter’s role after Bernier was torched for six goals on 15 shots in Tuesday’s loss to the Islanders. Reimer came on in relief of Bernier and fared well, stopping all six shots faced.

Prior to getting hurt, Reimer was playing some of the best hockey of his career — the 27-year-old was 7-4-4 with a 1.96 GAA and .936 save percentage.

For Pittsburgh, Matt Murray will get the start in goal again.

Elsewhere…

Braden Holtby will be in goal for the Caps after shutting out the Sabres on Monday. Buffalo will go with a different netminder in the rematch: Chad Johnson, who allowed three goals on 33 shots in a win over Boston on Saturday.

Cory Schneider‘s in for the Devils tonight, while Ottawa counters with Andrew Hammond.

Ben Bishop will start when the Bolts host the Rangers in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final. No word yet on a New York nod; head coach Alain Vigneault is expected to make an announcement within the next hour.

Martin Jones goes for the Sharks against Philly tonight. No word yet on a Flyers starter.