James Reimer

The Leafs will be without Reimer on Saturday

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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

Is it Reimer time in Toronto?

AP
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Sometimes, the best runs in sports happen because a chosen player gets injured.

The NFL may hold the most obvious examples: Drew Bledsoe making way for Tom Brady and Trent Green getting injured so Kurt Warner could conjure some magic.

It’s way, way, waaaay too early to say that Jonathan Bernier‘s injury opened the same door for James Reimer, at least from a long-term standpoint.

That said, the juicier question is: should that be the case?

Don Cherry went out of his way to make an interesting point: management may want Bernier to be “the guy” instead of Reimer.

This often happens with goalies, particularly in the case of a No. 1 who makes more money than his upstart backup. After all, a GM doesn’t want to look dumb in paying more for the lesser option, right?

There’s an interesting wrinkle with Reimer: he’s been the stat-leaning choice for some time, or at least a stat-head darling (as some are still kind to Bernier while also elevating Reimer).

Let’s be clear, though: Reimer’s recent play sure seems like it might force the issue.

Reimer stopped 43 out of 45 shots to help Toronto beat Vancouver 4-2, giving him three straight wins. The Maple Leafs have generated at least a point in five straight games and a 4-1-2 mark in his last seven starts.

That’s not a huge sample, although Reimer’s shown flashes of brilliance before. Can the Maple Leafs really afford to look the other way?

(Of course, assuming that they want to win …)