The Toronto Maple Leafs put a lot of eggs in the basket of James Reimer this season to be their No. 1 goaltender. So when he goes down, they get a little worried in Toronto. Especially when the word "concussion" is being tossed around.
Reimer was out Thursday night when the Leafs opened the new(er) Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. He's out after suffering a "whip-lash like" injury against the Canadiens. So the Leafs will have to start Jonas Gustavsson and they recalled Ben Scrivens to be the backup.
The only thing more frightening to Leafs fans than The Monster getting an increased number of starts? Him using the word "concussion" about Reimer. That's what he said Reimer is suffering from earlier on Thursday. Coach Ron Wilson later said team doctors haven't indicated if Reimer has a concussion or not.
"Last time I checked, I don’t have a medical degree and I don’t think The Monster does either," Wilson said.
GM Brian Burke isn't ready to call it a concussion at this point. Just see this tweet from Toronto sports radio host Daren Millard.
"Brian Burke says reimer being treated for concussion like symptoms. But club sticking to whip-lash."
Let's just put it this way: The team is being very careful -- as it should be -- regarding Reimer and will rely on Gustavsson and Scrivens in the meantime. This is the gamble that Burke took before the season, keeping Gustavsson as his backup. Just to bring a little context here, Gustavsson has a 4.88 goals against and .857 save percentage this season in his three games. This will give Toronto another chance to give Gustavsson a good look and see how capable he is, but if past performance is any indication of future outcomes, well ...
If it is determined that Reimer will be out for a longer length of time -- which doesn't seem to be the case -- or just the realization that if Reimer were to be injured again and out long-term that Gustavsson and Scrivens are the backups, it could prompt Burke to look around for a backup. There might be one available in Florida with Scott Clemmensen returning to health considering the way their rookie Jacob Markstrom has played.
Either way, the Leafs will need Reimer healthy if they hope to end their six-year postseason drought.
Since getting the lion's share of the load near the tail end of the season, the Maple Leafs have noticed a difference. In the 43 games he has played in his career, he has compiled a 24-10-6 record with a .920 save percentage and 2.59 goals against average. Comparatively, Gustavsson has a 23-30-11 career record and one of the goalies before Reimer, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, was 17-18-6 in 48 games. Notice a difference?
It's clear what Reimer means to Toronto. It's easy to call him the missing piece to their puzzle, goaltending has been the achilles heel for years. So the fingers are crossed tightly that this will only be a game or two absence.
In the meantime, it only seems fitting this time of year for the Maple Leafs to turn the keys over to a guy nicknamed the Monster.
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