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At the Rink: Avalanche at Maple Leafs

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- James Reimer will take whatever he can get.

Often referred to as the Toronto Maple Leafs' 1B goaltender to Jonathan Bernier's 1A, Reimer got his first start of the season Sunday against the New York Rangers, and even though he left the game at 13:17 of the third period after being clipped in the head by Dominic Moore of the Rangers, he will start Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche.

"It'll be good to get back in there; I'm excited to get another start and hopefully get another win," Reimer said. "I have a chance to go in there and try to win a game. We're starting our [Stanley Cup] Playoff push, so two points are up for grabs and hopefully I can do the job to get them."

Toronto coach Randy Carlyle showed no hesitation in putting Reimer back in goal, feeling Reimer supplied the Maple Leafs with the opportunity to win in New York. Starting against Colorado is his reward.

"We have talked about needing quality performances from everybody, and when you look at goaltending in the NHL it's a pretty big starting point for teams to have any kind of success," Carlyle said. "If you don't get NHL-quality goaltending your chances of success really drop in a hurry and that's what [Reimer] was able to provide for us."

Last season Bernier took over as the Maple Leafs starter, playing 55 games before being injured. Reimer was the starter down the stretch and got into 36 games. Carlyle has said he'll go with the hot hand but Reimer said it is too early to suggest that will wind up being the case.

"We've only played a few games so I don't think you can read into anything," Reimer said.

The Maple Leafs dropped their first two games of the season at home, losing 4-3 to the Montreal Canadiens and 5-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins with Bernier in goal. Reimer took over the crease in New York and looked sharp, allowing two goals and making 24 saves before being injured.

Reimer said he does not have any lingering effects from being hit by Moore. Reimer added he was happy with his positioning against the Rangers and credited the Maple Leafs defense for assisting him.

"It's not a secret defense wins, and I thought we did a great job in New York," Reimer said. "It is the hardest I have seen us work this year and we showed what we are capable of doing. A team like Colorado has a ton of offensive talent and we're going to have to be strong in our defensive zone."

As for the collision with Moore, Reimer said he has noticed a change in the way players attack the net since he first made it to the NHL in 2010.

"There is a drive to score more and more goals, and because defenses are playing well you have to go to the gritty areas and that is right in front of the net," Reimer said. "Guys are pushing and shoving and trying to get at pucks so it has gotten more and more physical. It's one of those things as a goalie you have to be ready for."

One of Toronto's best defensemen in the early going has been veteran Stephane Robidas, who sustained two broken legs last season and missed most of training camp this season. Robidas said he doesn't know a lot about the two Maple Leafs goalies, but was impressed by what he saw from Reimer in New York.

"He played very well," Robidas said. "We're confident we have two very good goalies."

Robidas, 37, remains a work in progress. The Maple Leafs coaching staff understands he is not in peak condition but he has played an average of 18:35 in the first three games and been a steadying influence for his partner, Dion Phaneuf.

"It's coming, but I'm not where I want to be," Robidas said. "I know I can be better. I'm not a fancy player by any means, but I think I can make a good first pass and that's what I have to get back to doing, moving the puck and being strong defensively."

Here are the projected lineups:


Jamie McGinn - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Alex Tanguay - Nathan MacKinnon - Daniel Briere

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Dennis Everberg

Cody McLeod - Maxime Talbot - Marc-Andre Cliche

Nick Holden - Erik Johnson

Tyson Barrie - Jan Hejda

Brad Stuart - Nate Guenin

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: Zach Redmond

Injured: Jesse Winchester (concussion), Ryan Wilson (upper body)


James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel

Daniel Winnik - Nazem Kadri - Joffrey Lupul

Leo Komarov - Mike Santorelli - David Clarkson

Richard Panik - Peter Holland - Brandon Kozun

Dion Phaneuf - Stephane Robidas

Roman Polak - Cody Franson

Stuart Percy - Morgan Rielly

James Reimer

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Carter Ashton, Matt Frattin, Jake Gardiner

Injured: David Booth (broken foot)

Status report: The Maple Leafs are expected to go with the same lineup they employed to beat the Rangers on Sunday, which means Gardiner will be a healthy scratch. … Wilson took a shot in the head Monday in Boston and is doubtful for Tuesday. He likely will be replaced in the lineup by Guenin.

Who's hot: After being held without a point in his first two games, Kessel had a goal and two assists against the Rangers. Franson played his first game of the season Sunday and had a goal and an assist. … Briere and McGinn scored Colorado's first two goals of the season Monday in the Avalanche's 2-1 victory against the Boston Bruins.

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