TORONTO – The Toronto Maple Leafs are going back to James Reimer.
Head coach Ron Wilson says the second-year goalie will start Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers as the Leafs take the ice for the first time since the NHL trade deadline.
“I’m going to try and get Reims going here. He’s knows his playing, ” Wilson said after the team’s morning skate. “All these rumours over the last couple of weeks have shown that they were nothing but rumours so all of our team I think will get a weight off their shoulders and just start moving forward.”
The Leafs (29-26-7) have just one victory in their last nine to fall to 10th place in the Eastern Conference and three points out of the final playoff spot.
Reimer has started the last two games for Toronto, a 2-1 loss to San Jose on Thursday and a 4-2 defeat to Washington on Saturday.
Wilson has criticized Reimer and fellow goalie Jonas Gustavsson during the team’s 1-7-1 slide since Feb. 7.
Leafs general manager Brian Burke said last week he would look at adding a goalie, but nothing materialized prior to yesterday’s NHL trade deadline.
Burke did make two minor deals, but neither affected the club’s NHL roster. He said he’s confident the current team can make the playoffs and an upbeat Leafs squad took the ice at Air Canada Centre on Tuesday having shed the uncertainty.
“I think we did a good job of letting (the deadline) not get to us for the most part but every time you turn on the TV or any time you get asked a question about trades and all that, it’s something that you have to not let be a distraction,” Reimer said. “It’s there but it’s part of the game and you have to deal with and it’s part of being a professional.”
Wilson said he noticed a change in mood in the dressing room prior to the morning skate.
“The gallows humour that pervades a room in the weeks coming up (to the deadline), who’s going to be moved, whether it’s you, they’re having fun with it, but there’s still anxiety there,” said Wilson, who will coach his 1,400th NHL game tonight. “That’s all gone now so we can just move forward and focus on what we have to do to be better in all areas of our game.”
Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn had been the subject of trade speculation. He said Burke’s faith in the club’s current roster is a boost.
“He’s obviously a guy who stands up for his players,” Schenn said. “He’s a straight shooter. He doesn’t really leave his guys in a grey area and that was the case for me. There was lots of speculation and being asked about it every day you never really know which rumours are true and which are just for a good story but he’s a guy who doesn’t lead you astray.”
Florida (29-20-12) comes to Toronto riding a two-game winning streak and is five points up on Toronto in the conference. The Panthers lead the Southeast Division by two points over the eighth-place Winnipeg Jets.
Defenceman Mike Komisarek will see his first action since Feb. 15 for Toronto. Forward Joey Crabb will also be in the lineup for the Leafs, while defenceman Cody Franson and forward Colby Armstrong are set to be healthy scratches.
“I think the whole trade deadline thing has been a bit of a distraction for our team,” said Komisarek. “I think yesterday was a big vote of confidence for the guys in the room and we’ve shown throughout the season that we are a playoff-capable team. We’ve just to put the last couple weeks behind us and bounce back.”
Notes: Florida is 10-2-2 against Canadian teams this season and 11-3-2 against Toronto since 2008, including 4-0-1 in the last five. … Jose Theodore will start in goal for the Panthers. … Former Leafs forward Kris Versteeg did not make the trip to Toronto after leaving Sunday’s game against Montreal with an undisclosed injury.