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Panthers turn to James Reimer again following Luongo injury

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This is why the Florida Panthers signed James Reimer to the deal that they did in 2016. The five-year, $17M contract handed to the goaltender meant that the team had adequate coverage should an aging Roberto Luongo go down with injury.

And here we are. Again.

Panthers head coach Bob Boughner announced on Monday that the 39-year-old Luongo will miss the next 2-4 weeks with a Grade 1 MCL sprain in his knee suffered during Saturday night’s loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning when teammate Frank Vatrano fell on his leg.

The team has prepared for situations like this by signing Reimer two years ago and adding Michael Hutchinson, who made 87 starts for the Winnipeg Jets from 2014-2018 before signing a one-year deal with the Panthers over the summer. Injuries have hit Luongo in each of the past two seasons, causing him to making only 72 starts between 2016-17 and 2017-18.

“In his absence, it’s just win some hockey games. That’s what we train for all summer to do,” Riemer said on Monday.

Reimer has made 88 appearances since joining the Panthers, posting a .922 even strength save percentage and helping them to 40 wins. Luongo has the exact ESSV% over the same span in 76 appearances.

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Goalie Nods: James Reimer starts again for Panthers

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Huge game in the Atlantic Division on Sunday night when the Florida Panthers host the Ottawa Senators in a classic four-point game.

The Senators enter the night tied with Boston for second place in the division with 70 points and four points ahead of the Panthers. Florida will be turning back to James Reimer for the start as he gets the call for the third time in the past four games as Roberto Luongo takes a back seat for the moment.

On Sunday, Luongo told George Richards of the Miami Herald that is the way it should be at the moment.

“Right now I don’t deserve to be playing,” Luongo told Richards. “That’s the bottom line. For me, everything is about the team and us winning games. James Reimer gives us a better chance to win every night than I am. Until I figure my [game] out this is the way it should go I think.”

Luongo has surrendered at least three goals in eight of his past 10 appearances, while Reimer is carrying a .927 save percentage in the month of February.

The Senators will go with Craig Anderson on Sunday night.

Elsewhere on Sunday…

— In the early games it was Tuukka Rask vs. Kari Lehtonen in the Boston Bruins-Dallas Stars, while Brian Elliott went against Eddie Lack in the Calgary Flames vs. Carolina Hurricanes game.

Cam Talbot makes his league-leading 56th start of the season for the Edmonton Oilers when they take on the Nashville Predators. No word yet from the Predators on their starter.

— Big game in the Metropolitan Division when the Columbus Blue Jackets visit the New York Rangers. Sergei Bobrovsky goes against Henrik Lundqvist in one heck of a goaltending matchup.

— With Corey Crawford under the weather Scott Darling will start for the Chicago Blackhawks when they host the St. Louis Blues on NBCSN. Jake Allen will go start the Blues.

Louis Domingue will start for the Arizona Coyotes when they host the Buffalo Sabres. No word yet from the Sabres on their starting goalie, but the team did call up Linus Ullmark from the AHL before the game.

James Reimer joins Luongo in Florida

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Roberto Luongo is 37, the oldest starting goalie in the NHL.

Al Montoya is a free agent, who wasn’t expected to be back.

And that’s why the Florida Panthers just signed James Reimer to a five-year, $17 million contract.

Reimer, 28, split last season between Toronto and San Jose. He finished with a .922 save percentage in 40 appearances.

So expect Luongo to start fewer games next season. He started 60 in 2015-16, and that’s a lot for a goalie his age.

The Panthers have also reportedly signed Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault to two-year deals.

UFA of the Day: James Reimer

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Every day until June 30, we’ll write about a pending unrestricted free agent. Today’s UFA of the Day is…

James Reimer

The 28-year-old goaltender’s career has been one of big ups and downs, but he’s set to enter the free agent market on a high note. After two disappointing campaigns, Reimer was one of the few silver linings on an otherwise dreary 2015-16 Maple Leafs until Toronto dealt him to the Sharks on Feb. 27. That move gave Reimer an opportunity to show what he could do with a strong team in front of him.

Reimer posted a 1.62 GAA and .938 save percentage in his eight regular season starts with San Jose and at one time his presence seemed to spark a goaltending controversy after Sharks coach Peter DeBoer refused to name his starter for the playoffs on March 25. Of course, ultimately the Sharks did stick with Martin Jones and that’s worked out for them, but the fact that Reimer could come in at the 11th hour and threaten a goaltender that was having a good season speaks to Reimer’s own success during his stint.

Once the Stanley Cup Final ends, Reimer will have completed a two-year, $4.6 million contract and find himself eligible to test the unrestricted free agent market for the first time. While his inconsistent history makes him something of a gamble, he’s still likely to get a significant raise this summer and that might price him out of San Jose, which is paying Martin Jones $3 million annually through 2017-18 and will want to factor in the distinct possibility that Jones will expect a big payday after his current contract plays out.

One possible destination for Reimer would be Calgary as the Flames’ goalie situation was a problem in 2015-16 and of the four netminders they used at the NHL level, only Joni Ortio is still under their control as a restricted free agent. Plus Brian Burke is the team president and was a supporter of Reimer when they were both a part of the Maple Leafs’ organization. Perhaps they’ll be working together again in 2016-17.

Click here for all our 2016 UFA profiles.

Finally: Ryan Murray’s first goal of 2014-15 puts James Reimer out of his misery

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Sometimes the same goal can leave different fans saying “finally” for different reasons.

It’s been an awful Wednesday for the Toronto Maple Leafs, especially James Reimer. It turns out the fourth goal allowed finally shuttled him from the Maple Leafs’ net.

The 2014-15 season has been cruel for Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray, who’s still-young career has been crippled by injuries. Many Blue Jackets fans probably said “finally” when he got his first goal of the year, the same tally that chased Reimer tonight:

It’s plausible that we’ll see better days for both players, and maybe even their teams.