TORONTO -- Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle subscribes to the old sports adage that you never critique a victory, no matter how dreadful the performance.
He knows there wasn't much to like about his club's 2-0 victory at home against the struggling New Jersey Devils on Monday. It was buzz kill after all the buzz generated by the Maple Leafs win over the Montreal Canadiens last Saturday.
Against the Devils, the Maple Leafs put only 13 shots on goal. One of those shots was an empty-net goal from Toronto's hardest working forward Jay McClement. The Leafs only had a total of five shots on New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur after the opening 40 minutes.
"I was thinking about [Philadelphia Flyers goalie Ilya] Bryzgalov [reportedly] falling asleep in the meeting [last week]. It could have well happened today," the underworked Brodeur quipped.
After the Maple Leafs' embarrassing effort through 40 minutes, Carlyle did his best David Letterman imitation and tried to put smiles on his players with some humour in the second intermission.
Toronto's head coach did not want to elaborate on exactly what was said ["It was some inside stuff."], but whatever song and dance act he used, it worked because his team was a little better in the third period.
Reimer comes through
If there was another good development from the Maple Leafs' latest win - they're now 9-1-4 in their last 14 outings - it was the play of goalie James Reimer. He kept his teammates in the game until Phil Kessel scored a power-play goal with six minutes and 32 seconds remaining in the third period.
The 25-year-old Reimer earned his ninth career shutout with a 32-save effort and stole two points for his club. He's beaten two of the best netminders in the East in his last couple of outings - Carey Price and Brodeur.
He was particularly good during a Devils' power play midway through the third period, when he stopped Adam Henrique, got lucky when Andy Greene's shot clanked off the post, and then made an outstanding athletic stop on Patrik Elias.
The sequence of saves earned Reimer a standing ovation from the sleepy crowd at the Air Canada Centre.
If you know the god-fearing goalie, he's not the vengeful type. But he certainly has exhibited to Toronto general manager Dave Nonis that maybe it was a good thing the Maple Leafs didn't waste a player or draft picks, or a combination in acquiring either Miikka Kiprusoff from the Calgary Flames or Roberto Luongo from the Vancouver Canucks.
Carlyle worried about Reimer
Still, Carlyle admitted that he was worried about Reimer after he returned from a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for seven games in February. He wasn't the same goalie that played well early on.
Reimer is on a roll now. He has stopped 68 of 69 shots in the past two games.
A playoff spot is a certainty for the Maple Leafs. They need any combination of four points gained or lost by the Winnipeg Jets to clinch the club's first post-season berth since 2004.
The same cannot be said about Devils. The Stanley Cup finalists of a year ago extended their winless streak to the dubious distinction of a franchise-tying 10 games at 0-6-4. They've been awful since Ilya Kovalchuk went down with a shoulder injury 10 games ago, and have slipped all the way to 11th in the East.
The scary situation has left Brodeur, the game's winningest goalie, stuck at 666 wins for more than three weeks. A fitting number for a lifelong Devil, but not for a goalie who also has the most career NHL losses, now at 379.
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