TORONTO – By the time James Reimer got home from the grocery store on Wednesday afternoon, he was still the No. 1 goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While many players across the NHL waited anxiously as the 3 p.m. ET trade deadline approached, Reimer went shopping.
“Went to the grocery store, bought some groceries,” Reimer said. “By the time I came home the deadline was over.
“It’s not like I had my phone open the whole time. It was just in my pocket so it wasn’t too too stressful a day.”
Reimer was well-served in keeping the trade talk swirling around the Maple Leafs in the background. General manager Dave Nonis acknowledged that a deal was in place to bring Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff to Toronto, only to have the veteran netminder nix the trade because he wasn’t 100 per cent committed.
The Maple Leafs were also rumoured to have made a final call to the Vancouver Canucks about Roberto Luongo, whose massive contract seems to be the only reason he’s still with the club.
Reimer, meanwhile, has tried to ignore talk that Toronto needs a veteran presence in the crease with the team poised for its first playoff berth since 2004.
“I wasn’t too worried about it and I’m glad I wasn’t because if I was I would have wasted a couple good days,” Reimer said Thursday morning at Air Canada Centre ahead of Toronto’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers. “The day came and went and here we are.”
Reimer understands the argument in favour of acquiring a goalie with experience—he has only 93 NHL regular-season games to his credit, and none in the playoffs—but adds that playing in the fishbowl that is Toronto counts for something else.
“As far as games played obviously I’m not experienced but I think when you play in a Canadian city with this much attention, I think your experience as a player, as a goalie, is twofold as opposed to another city where there is no hype,” he said. “I think you experience a lot more here than you do in other places.”
Toronto (20-12-4) enters play Thursday fifth in the Eastern Conference, while Philadelphia (16-17-3) is 11th.
Nonis said after the trade deadline that he’s happy with Reimer and Ben Scrivens as the Maple Leafs’ goalie tandem heading into the playoffs, but the fact that he entertained the idea of bringing in a veteran showed he’s not completely sold on the duo.
“I don’t really want to get too caught up in this and that. I just want to play my game,” Reimer added. “Getting caught up with No. 1, No. 2, who’s playing, who’s not … I don’t know if you want to waste your time and effort on that.”
Reimer is one of the main reasons Toronto is in the post-season hunt, having compiled a 13-4-4 record with two shutouts, a 2.52 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage so far in 2013. Scrivens, meanwhile, is 7-8-0 with a 2.59 GAA and a .918 save percentage. He also has two shutouts.
Reimer doesn’t want to focus on anything at this point other than the Maple Leafs’ final 12 games of the regular season.
“As soon as you start giving yourself a pat on the back then things go down,” he said. “You work hard and when you get rewarded it’s nice but you’ve got to keep working hard, otherwise it’s kind of useless.”
Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf was happy to see the trade deadline come and go with just the addition of defenceman Ryan O’Byrne from Colorado and no one leaving Toronto’s roster.
“There’s a lot of attention paid to (the trade deadline), especially in this market, so it’s good that it’s behind us,” he said. “We like the group that we have. We’re very confident in the team that we have and it’s good that it’s over and behind us.”
In O’Byrne, who isn’t expected in Toronto until Thursday afternoon and is a question mark for the game against the Flyers, the Maple Leafs added a player that fits into their system.
“He brings a lot of size. He’s a big strong guy that’s going to add to our group,” Phaneuf said. “He plays hard, he finishes his checks and we’re excited to get him in this room.”