If Jonathan Bernier
was brought in to be the Toronto Maple Leafs
' No. 1 goalie, incumbent James Reimer
sure has not given up the crease without a fight.
In fact, Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle has stressed that he has not arrived at a No. 1 and No. 2 goalie yet, and the two will continue to share the crease as they have through the first quarter of the season.
Reimer was a disciple of former Maple Leafs goalie coach Francois Allaire, but has blossomed under current goalie coach Rick St. Croix and doesn't look as stilted as he did in the past. Reimer's athletic ability seems to be shining through this season as he has fashioned a 4-2-0 record with a 2.30 goals-against average and .942 save percentage with one shutout.
"Rick definitely has more of a looser approach to it," Reimer said. "You want to stick with what makes you good, which is being big and in control. He's definitely a little looser in situations where he'll say, 'This will work or that will work'... giving me options where Frankie would say, 'It's this way and that's the only way.' Both are good and both have their place. Both are great goalie coaches and have taught me a lot."
Reimer credits his work in the off-season for his solid start to the 2013-14 campaign.
"Every year you get better," he said. "Your best keeps getting better. This year we did a lot of goalie-specific stuff. I think it has complimented my game on the ice. My athleticism is getting a little better, but you still have to rely on your fundamentals to make 90 per cent of your saves."
Rebound control has been an issue with Reimer, but last Saturday in a 3-1 loss in Boston
, he appeared to absorb the puck better than ever and kept his rebounds to a minimum.
"Rebound control is one of the main things about goaltending," Reimer said. "Sometimes you have great days and sometimes you have bad days. It's one of those things I am constantly working on. In Boston it was just one of those days when pucks were sticking to me. A big thing with rebound control is seeing he puck. If you can see the puck you can absorb it for the most part. It's the times when you only see half of it or just a bit of it, you are more just blocking it and trying to be big. You aren't as concerned with absorbing it."Bring on the Wild
The Maple Leafs headed to Minnesota following practice Tuesday for a Wednesday meeting with the upstart Wild
. With a 10-4-4 record, the Wild have been an especially hard team to play against, but Carlyle feels his Maple Leafs, despite missing two top centres in David Bolland and Tyler Bozak, are ready for the challenge.
It'll be just the third game in 11 days for the Leafs.
"With the work we have put in at practice and with ample days of rest, also, we feel the group is energized and ready to go," Carlyle said. "We have challenges of missing personnel, but that gets pushed to the wayside after you have your group together for three or four or five practices, so it's not even an issue any more.
"It's going to be difficult, we know, because we're going on the road to play in a tough building on Wednesday against Minnesota and then we travel on to Buffalo where it's always an occasion and things seem to ramp up in that building. I think our players seem to be energized with their work ethic in practice and they jump they have shown. Now it's time to display it out on the opposition's ice."Bozak back (sort of)
Bozak returned to the ice Tuesday morning prior to practice for a little solo workout, skating for 25 minutes. The 27-year-old Regina. Sask., native has missed the past six games with a hamstring injury.
Bozak, who normally centres the Maple Leafs' top line between James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel, has three goals and six points in 11 games. Coach Carlyle is hopeful Bozak will be able to join his teammates for practice early next week.Lupul eyes Olympic team
Joffrey Lupul was not among the invitees to the Canadian Olympic hockey team's orientation camp last summer, but with Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning going down with a broken leg
Monday, the Maple Leafs winger could now be viewed as a possible candidate for the team.
"I'm just focusing on our game here and whatever happens, happens," Lupul said. "Obviously I want to play as well as possible for that possibility and for my team in general. Hopefully I have elevated my game to the point where I am at least in the conversation.
"Everyone will analyze the team at the end of the day, but every guy who is there will be a capable player and be able to help their country."Clarkson's slow start
Having no goals and just one assist in his first seven games is unfamiliar territory for right-winger David Clarkson.
The former New Jersey Devil, who signed a seven-year contract for $36.75 million US with the Maple Leafs last summer, got off to wicked start last season, scoring seven goals and 12 points in his first nine games. The year before he had seven goals and nine points in 18 games.Steckel signs
Former Maple Leafs centre David Steckel signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Anaheim Ducks. Steckel split last season between Toronto and Anaheim, recording a goal and seven points. In five games with Norfolk of the American Hockey League this season, Steckel has a goal and two points with eight penalty minutes.
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