TORONTO – Ben Scrivens is back as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ starting goaltender.
The club announced Tuesday that incumbent James Reimer will miss at least a week with a strained knee ligament after getting injured in the second period of Toronto’s 5-2 home win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night.
The six-foot-two, 196-pound Scrivens was a superb replacement for Reimer, stopping 32-of-33 shots he faced in relief.
With Reimer now sidelined, Scrivens will be the man in goal during a busy time for the Leafs (8-5-0), who have won four straight heading into Thursday night’s road contest against the Carolina Hurricanes that kicks off a stretch of six games in 10 nights.
But Toronto’s hectic schedule was of little concern to Scrivens on Tuesday as the 26-year-old native of Spruce Grove, Alta., and his teammates visited with patients at the Hospital for Sick Children.
“I’m ready to play the next game and that’s all I’m going to focus on right now,” Scrivens said. “We have a game Thursday and I’m focused on getting back out to practice (Wednesday) and having a good practice and continue what I was doing two days ago before any of this stuff happened.
“My mindset hasn’t changed at all, it’s still go practise hard, go do my job and give the team a chance to win when called upon.”
Toronto might have to lean heavily on Scrivens for a while. On Tuesday, the Calgary Flames announced veteran goalie Miikka Kiprusoff will miss another two weeks with a sprained knee ligament after first being sidelined a week by the ailment.
The Leafs are expected to call up either Jussi Rynnas or Mark Owuya from the Marlies to back up Scrivens. But that move can’t happen until Wednesday because the AHL squad was scheduled to visit the Hamilton Bulldogs on Tuesday night.
Entering that contest, Rynnas had an 8-7-1 record to go along with a 2.54 goals-against average and .914 save percentage, while Owuya was 3-4-0 with a 3.29 GAA and .869 save percentage.
Scrivens began the season as the Leafs starter, partly because he had spent the lockout playing for the Marlies, while Reimer didn’t suit up for any team. With an abbreviated training camp to start the year, the thinking was Scrivens was more game-ready than Reimer.
However, goaltending was a major concern for Toronto to start the season considering Scrivens and Reimer had made less than 100 career starts combined. Scrivens began the campaign impressively, allowing just three goals in his first two starts before being pulled in the third period of a 7-4 home loss to the New York Islanders on Jan. 13 after allowing five goals on 25 shots.
He has made just once start since, a 3-2 win over Washington on Feb. 5. So far this season, he has appeared in five games—four starts—and compiled a 2-2 record, 2.56 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.
Reimer, meanwhile, has made 10 appearances—including nine starts—and has 6-3 record with a 2.31 GAA, one shutout and .929 save percentage.
The good news for Toronto is Reimer’s injury isn’t nearly as serious as the whiplash he suffered after being hit by Montreal’s Brian Gionta on Dec. 3, 2011. That incident forced him to miss 19 games and Reimer was slow to regain his former upon his return.
On Monday night, the 24-year-old from Morweena, Man., was hurt on a rather innocent-looking play. He was down on his knees during a goal-mouth scramble and once play ended Reimer required assistance to not only get to his feet but also leave the ice.
The loss of a No. 1 goaltender can be devastating to a team, but Toronto defenceman Mark Fraser says Scrivens more than proved his mettle coming off the bench and effectively shutting the down the Flyers.
“He played phenomenal,” Fraser said. “Your goaltender is your last line of defence and there’s a lot of times they need to make a save for you to steal a game or keep you in a game.
“Ben showed (Monday night) he’s very capable of doing that. We’re fortunate right now that our goaltending situation is where it’s at. There was a lot of talk about it prior to the season but both of those guys have done a phenomenal job stepping in and silencing the critics.”
Toronto is also playing well up front, having scored 11 goals in its last two games and 39 on the season, leaving the Leafs among the highest-scoring clubs in the Eastern Conference.
“We’re playing well right now,” Fraser said. “We have good goaltending, we’ve been playing solid defensively and been able to score quite a bit too.
“Regardless of who’s in the lineup, we don’t see why we should change that.”