James Reimer
AP Photo

Pending UFA Reimer wants to stick with Leafs

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James Reimer‘s tenure with the Maple Leafs has been rocky at times, but he doesn’t want to see it come to an end.

“This is the only organization I know and it was always my dream when I got drafted to play my whole career here,” Reimer told the Toronto Sun. “It’s one of the best, I mean it is the best place to play and by far the best place to win and having seen that there is no place I would rather go. Hopefully, I can keep working hard and keep earning the job and we can have a lot of success.”

He’ll be eligible to test the unrestricted free agent waters for the first time in the summer of 2016 after completing his current two-year, $4.6 million contract. Although there was a time when it looked like Reimer would be the team’s starting goaltender, he’s now 27 years old and has spent the last two seasons primarily serving as the understudy.

The Maple Leafs’ decision to bring in Jonathan Bernier before the start of the 2013-14 season and Reimer’s streaky play have contributed to that. His lack of playing time has led to tension in the past, but everyone will get a fresh start under new coach Mike Babcock and GM Lou Lamoriello.

Goalie Nods: Reimer returns home

jamesreimergetty
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Reimer looks to get the Leafs back in the win column

The Toronto Maple Leafs have just one win in their last four and are heading into a back-to-back situation tonight when they visit the Winnipeg Jets. Manitoba native James Reimer, who is 6-6-0 with a 3.39 G.A.A and a .905 save percentage, is expected to get the start in goal for the Leafs. Reimer allowed three goals on 41 shots in the Maple Leafs’ 3-2 loss to the Lightning on Monday. The 26-year-old allowed four goals on 19 shots in his only start at MTS Centre last season.

Michael Hutchinson gets the start in goal for the Jets.

Elsewhere…

Canadiens at Penguins: Carey Price vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Sabres at Rangers: Jhonas Enroth vs. Henrik Lundqvist

Flyers at Devils: Steve Mason vs. Cory Schneider

Wild at Stars: Darcy Kuemper vs. Kari Lehtonen

Blue Jackets at Coyotes: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Mike Smith

Red Wings at Canucks: Jimmy Howard vs. Ryan Miller

Blues at Sharks: Brian Elliott vs. Antti Niemi

Cardiac Cats: Panthers win as Reimer, Leafs fade in third

Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers
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With Jonathan Bernier out sick, it looked like James Reimer might just nab a victory for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Then the Florida Panthers’ domination of the third period happened.

The Maple Leafs carried a 4-2 lead into the final frame after a wild six-goal second period even though the Panthers generated a 29-13 shot advantage through the first 40 minutes of the game. Puck luck swerved sharply in the other direction during the final frame, however, as Florida won 6-4 after scoring four times on just six shots on goal.

Even with one of those tallies hitting an empty net, it’s likely that Reimer will feel the heat in Toronto after this loss.

He’d probably want a few goals back, including Dmitry Kulikov’s first tally of 2014-15:

Randy Carlyle wouldn’t even give Reimer a vote of confidence after tonight’s game, as TSN’s Jonas Siegel reports:

While much of the focus will be on Toronto’s troubles, the Panthers deserve some credit for being tenacious in recent close games:

As of this writing, the Maple Leafs would still grab the first wild card spot in the East while Florida would be on top of the bubble. The Panthers trail Toronto by three standings points, yet have three games in hand, so they might close in on the Buds in the standings in the same way they did during today’s game.

Video: Reimer, Leafs steal two points in Detroit

James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs guards the net during an NHL game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place on March 17, 2012 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.
(March 16, 2012 - Source: Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images North America)
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James Reimer made his first start since Nov. 15th on Wednesday night and made a case to start more regularly.

The Leafs goaltender turned aside 41 Red Wings shots as Toronto edged Detroit 2-1 in a shootout. Reimer improved to 3-0-0 when facing 40 or more shots this season. He has a 1.94 G.A.A. and a .953 save percentage in those games.

Mike Santorelli had the winner while Phil Kessel scored his team-leading 15th of the season in regulation for the Leafs.

With the win, Toronto improved to 7-1-1 over their last nine games.

When coach Randy Carlyle was asked for a comment on his goaltender post-game, he reached into his old bag of tricks.

“He was just OK,” joked Carlyle. “I’ve been waiting a long time for that.”

For those not familiar, Carlyle caused a stir last season following a 3-2 loss to the Red Wings.

At that time, he was asked to comment on Reimer’s performance following a 28 save loss.

“He was OK. He was just OK,” Carlyle said.

Reimer was not amused by those comments.

“He said I was just OK? I thought I was good,” Reimer responded. “I don’t know if I was great and I would like to be great. I thought I made some good saves when I needed to. That third one, you want to make a big save for your team there. Unfortunately it wasn’t the case tonight.”

The back and forth between Carlyle and Reimer, which occurred on March 18, caused a rift between the two leading to speculation that the goaltender would likely be traded during the offseason.

Following Wednesday’s win, the only question is when Reimer will get the crease again.

Toronto now has two days off before playing host to Detroit for the fifth and final meeting of the season on Saturday. The Leafs will play in their seventh back-to-back of the season when the Kings visit Sunday.

Reimer is likely to get one of those two games.

Gustav Nyquist had the lone Red Wings goal. Detroit saw its’ three-game win streak come to an end in the loss.

“They stole two points,” said Wings coach Mike Babcock post-game.

Jimmy Howard made 18 saves in the loss.

Video: Reimer with an impressive first period against the Wings

James Reimer
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The Maple Leafs are playing in the second half of a back-to-back tonight in Detroit and it showed in the first period.

Toronto was out-shot 12-7, but thanks to the solid play of goaltender James Reimer, it was scoreless after 20 minutes.

Here’s a look at Reimer’s first period of work:

Reimer, who is making his first appearance since Nov. 18, is 4-3-0 with an .898 save percentage and a 3.64 goals-against average this season.

The Leafs meanwhile are playing in their sixth of 18 back-to-back games this season. Toronto defeated the Calgary Flames 4-1 at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday night.