TORONTO – James Reimer and Ben Scrivens became fast friends during training camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fall. Never in their wildest dreams did they imagine they’d be the team’s goaltenders this season.
But that will be the case on Saturday when the Ottawa Senators visit Air Canada Centre.
Scrivens remained with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies for their game against Hamilton on Friday night, but was expected to be recalled Saturday to back up Reimer, according to Leafs coach Ron Wilson.
It was an exciting prospect for goalies who started the season Nos. 3 and 5 on the organization’s depth chart.
“We’re good buddies,” said Reimer. “We were hanging out during training camp, he’s a good Western boy. We had some common ground there.
“He’s a great guy and it will be fun to have him here tomorrow.”
Scrivens started the season with the ECHL’s Reading Royals, but has performed well during a couple AHL stints. He took a 7-3-3 record, .927 save percentage and 2.27 goals-against average into Friday’s game.
His first taste of the NHL comes after the organization lost three goaltenders to injury in the span of a week.
“We’ve gone from a lengthy depth chart in net to a Mash ward,” said Leafs GM Brian Burke. “We’re kind of doing triage right now.”
Wilson said veteran J.S. Giguere will be out seven to 10 days with the lower-body injury he suffered during Wednesday’s game in Buffalo while Jonas Gustavsson practised Friday for the first time since undergoing his third heart ablation procedure last week.
The Monster is hoping for a quick return.
“I didn’t feel as tired as I thought I would feel,” said Gustavsson. “It’s just about finding the timing to see the puck now. It shouldn’t take that long.”
Marlies goalie Jussi Rynnas is out four weeks with a broken finger.
With so many goalies on the mend, the Leafs will likely run with Reimer for the foreseeable future. The 22-year-old has been a pleasant surprise for management this season with an 8-4-1 record, .930 save percentage and 2.39 GAA.
Giguere’s latest injury setback offers him more opportunity to solidify his place in the NHL.
“I hope that I can keep proving that I can play and that we can keep winning,” said Reimer. “That’s the most important thing.”
Gustavsson seemed unfazed by his latest setback with a heart condition that was first discovered in training camp last season. The Swede has been assured by doctors that he’ll be able to resume his career.
After having the latest procedure on Feb. 12, he was forced to rest for a couple days before resuming some off-ice workouts.
“The last couple days I’ve been doing some bike rides,” said Gustavsson. “A little bit more and more every day. I wasn’t going out for the first time today and having a workout. I’ve been doing maybe half an hour bike rides and so on.
“It felt like that helped a little bit at least.”
On Friday, the Marlies announced they had signed goalies Andrew Engelage and David Brown to professional tryout contracts. They will help fill the void at the AHL level until some of the other goalies return from injury.