James Reimer

Goalie nods: Reimer looks to re-establish form after three-game absence

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After Garret Sparks’ second career start went much, much worse than his first, the Maple Leafs will give James Reimer the start this evening when they take on the Wild in Minnesota.

Reimer, who’s missed the last three games with a lower-body injury, had been playing great prior to getting hurt — in November, he went 6-2-3 with a 1.68 GAA and .949 save percentage. He wrestled the No. 1 job away from Jonathan Bernier (who’s now in the midst of a stint with the AHL Marlies) and was a big reason why the Leafs won five of six from Nov. 10-20.

As for Sparks, his feel-good story hit a rough patch last night in a blowout 6-1 loss to the Jets. The rookie was on the hook for all six goals, a far cry from the shutout he posted against Edmonton earlier in the week in his NHL debut.

For the Wild, Devan Dubnyk will get the start in goal.

Elsewhere…

— The Avs are going back to Semyon Varlamov as they take on the Rangers at MSG. Varlamov hasn’t played since allowing four goals in a loss to the Islanders on Monday; Reto Berra played in Tuesday’s 2-1 win in New Jersey. No word yet on who starts for the Rangers.

— Battle of the backups in Carolina as Keith Kinkaid starts for the Devils, while Eddie Lack goes for the ‘Canes.

— It’s Braden Holtby (as per usual) for the Caps in Montreal, while the Habs counter with Mike Condon.

— No surprises in Ottawa, as the Sens continue to roll with Craig Anderson while the ‘Hawks start Corey Crawford.

Mike Smith will look to rebound after allowing four goals (granted, on 40 shots) in his last outing, a loss to Nashville. The Wings are going with Jimmy Howard after Petr Mrazek started the last two games.

— The red-hot Roberto Luongo (1.29 GAA, .952 save percentage over his current three-game winning streak) will go for Florida in Nashville. Pekka Rinne is likely for the Preds.

Ryan Miller will get the nod for Vancouver tonight when the Canucks host the Stars. No word yet on a Dallas starter.

The Leafs will be without Reimer on Saturday

James Reimer
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James Reimer (lower body) won’t be available to play in Saturday’s game against Washington.

Reimer was injured during a team practice earlier this week and although the injury didn’t appear to be serious, it will prevent him from suiting up in at least one game.

The Leafs originally thought that the 27-year-old would be good to go for this tilt, but head coach Mike Babcock said Reimer didn’t feel good enough to play.

Reimer’s emerged as the go-to-guy for the Maple Leafs this season and for good reason.

He has 7-3-4 record with a 2.07 goals-against-average and a .934 save percentage in 15 games.

Another reason the Leafs have been counting on him so much is because Jonathan Bernier‘s been awful.

Bernier will get another opportunity to prove himself on Saturday night, but he faces a stiff test against Alex Ovechkin and company.

The 27-year-old has an 0-7-1 record with a 3.17 goals-against-average and a .895 save percentage in ’15-16.

In a corresponding move, the Leafs sent defenseman Scott Harrington to the minors and recalled goalie Garret Sparks.

Sparks was Toronto’s seventh round pick in 2011.

The 22-year-old has an 8-2-1 record with the Toronto Marlies this season.

Rask edges Reimer in goalie duel; Marchand torments Toronto

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The story was going to be about James Reimer, but to some extent, Zdeno Chara ended that with a big blast.

Chara scored the 1-0 goal fairly late in the third period of what had been a great display of goaltending, particularly by Reimer, as the Boston Bruins ultimately won 2-0. Tuukka Rask got the shutout, continuing to haunt Toronto Maple Leafs fans.

Again, Reimer was still very good, and still remains quite hot.

It was also a game in which Brad Marchand likely made even more enemies.

As you can see from the video above, he delivered a questionable hit (was it knee-to-knee?) on Leo Komarov. He also rubbed a little salt in Toronto’s wounds with an empty-netter.

The three stars says most of it:

Yet Marchand certainly made an impact in his own right, and in his own distinct way.

Are the Leafs finally primed to ride Reimer?

James Reimer
AP
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Want a sign that the Toronto Maple Leafs are truly handing the torch to James Reimer, at least for the moment? Tonight might provide that evidence.

After another sterling Reimer performance boosted the Leafs to a 2-1 shootout win against the Carolina Hurricanes, Mike Babcock was convinced of his earlier notion to give Reimer back-to-back starts.

That’s one of those things that normally happen for workhorse-type No. 1 goalies, right?

Really, how could Toronto deny Reimer, unless tanking truly is the goal?

Look at all of these Reimer stats:

Meanwhile, fair or not, Jonathan Bernier‘s stuck at a 0-7-1 record with poor individual stats.

Will this stick even if Reimer has a hiccup? Maybe, maybe not. So far, he’s taking that decision out of Babcock’s hands.

Duchene, Zuccarello and Reimer are NHL’s three stars of the week

Matt Duchene

Avalanche center Matt Duchene, Rangers winger Mats Zuccarello and Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.

From NHL.com:

Duchene led the NHL with four goals and eight points – including three multi-point performances in as many outings – to help the Avalanche (7-9-1, 15 points) begin their season-long, seven-game road trip with a 3-0-0 record.

Zuccarello paced the NHL with five assists and ranked second with seven points in four outings to help the League-leading Rangers (14-2-2, 30 points) extend their winning streak to nine games and point streak to 13 contests (11-0-2).

Reimer went 3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average and .952 save percentage to backstop the Maple Leafs (5-9-4, 14 points) to three wins in four games.

Not a bad response to those trade rumors, eh?

Related: Duchene ‘hopeful’ that he’ll stay with Avs