After having an off-day Sunday, the Maple Leafs returned to practice Monday at MasterCard Centre. The Leafs are set to have another three big games this week starting Tuesday in New York against the Islanders. They then return home to face Philadelphia Thursday and Buffalo Saturday.
It was a spirited practice with lots of skating and even a shootout drill towards the end of the skate. Despite the loss last Saturday to Chicago, the Leafs have moved past it and now concentrate on seven straight games against Eastern Conference opponents starting tomorrow.
“Everyone is upbeat and we feel good about the game tomorrow in Long Island. They’re big points. All of them, division, conference games they’re big points,” Dion Phaneuf
Tomorrow’s game won’t be easy as the Islanders have been playing much better of late going 4-3-3 in their last 10 games. They have been one of the hottest teams since the All-Star break and with not much to play for can be a spoiler down the stretch.
“The games don’t have the same meaning to the Islanders at the moment as they do to us so the pressure is on us but we’ve handled that pretty good so far,” said head coach Ron Wilson.James Reimer
is expected to get the start in net tomorrow night. He is coming off a rough outing where he allowed five goals on just 19 shots and admitted that it was an awful feeling getting pulled.
“It sucks to lose, it sucks to get pulled but you just have to forget about it,” Reimer said.
Being pulled is never fun but it is another learning experience for the 22-year-old Winnipeg native who has gained a lot during his 22 games in the NHL.
“When I got pulled in hindsight you learn just as much from that as you do when you win. You learn a lot about your play, how you handled yourself and what you can do better,” he said.
Between playing with the Marlies and Leafs, Reimer has seen action in 37 games this season which is the most he has ever played in pro hockey . His most ever was 60 in his second season of junior. Neither the netminder nor head coach believes fatigue has started to set in despite playing 10 straight games.
“Every once in a while you have a game where you’re off a little bit and he was in the first 10 minutes of the game the other night. He will bounce back,” Wilson said.
Reimer is getting world class care from the trainers and even veteran goalie J.S. Giguere has offered suggestions on how to re-energize his body.
“Even Jiggy (Giguere) has given me tips, cold tubs, hot tubs, massages so far it hasn’t been that bad,” Reimer said.
Although there is no scoreboard watching tonight for the Leafs or Leafs Nation, Wilson was asked if he watched any of Sunday’s games involving teams in the race with the Leafs.
“You look and get your hopes up then they get dashed and you get frustrated so there is no point. We can only go out and win our own games and in the end it will take care of itself,” Wilson said.