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

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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.

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

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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?

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.