Reimer ready for anything

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer drinks water during a break in play against the Carolina...

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer drinks water during a break in play against the Carolina Hurricanes during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Toronto, Dec., 13, 2011. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:38 PM ET

James Reimer vows not to look past the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night at the RBC Center.

Easier said than done.

While healed forward Matthew Lombardi confirmed he will not be in the lineup against the Hurricanes, Reimer definitely will be. In fact, he’ll be seeking redemption from his poor effort in the Maple Leafs 5-3 loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, a contest in which he allowed three goals on seven shots before getting the hook in favour of backup Jonas Gustavsson.

Of course, most of the line of questioning fired at the young goaltender after the Leafs morning skate on Thursday had little to do with the Florida loss. No, the topic de jour centred on the fact that the Leafs will leave after the Canes contest for a New Years Eve date Saturday against the Jets in Winnipeg, which is just a 90 minute drive from his hometown of Morweena, Manitoba.

In many respects, that will be a home game for Reimer, who admits that most of Morweena “probably will be in the arena” at the MTS Centre. Of courser, should he turn in another subpar performance, this time here in Raleigh, don’t put it past coach Ron Wilson to start Gustavsson in Winnipeg.

“It would be sucky going to Winnipeg (on a two-game losing streak),” said Reimer, adding that the onslaught of ticket requests for the Jets game has been addressed in the past couple of days.

“I’m not looking that far ahead though,” Reimer said. “Right now it’s about the Hurricanes. We need the win.”

As for the horrific memories of the Panthers loss, he just laughed.

“I don’t remember anything,” he quipped.

Lombardi, meanwhile, continues to get closer to a return after being out of the lineup since Nov. 17 with a suspected shoulder injury. At the same time, he acknowledged after the morning skate Thursday that he will not play here in Carolina, suggesting that the Leafs will need to make a roster move before he can get back into action.

One player who likely won’t be going anywhere is Nazem Kadri, who has shown the impressive form that made the Leafs select him in the first round of the 2009 draft.

Since being recalled from the AHL Marlies, Kadri, in three appearances, scored in each of his two games back. While he didn’t find the back of the net in the third one, which was the loss to the Panthers, Wilson suggested he may have been Toronto’s best forward.

“I don’t think I’m a different player from before. I’m still the same player. I just had flaws in my game that I needed to fix,” Kadri said.

“Scoring in my first two games back gave me more confidence too.”

The Leafs lineup is expected to be the same as the one that fell to the Panthers. With John-Michael Liles still on IR with concussion-like symptoms, the defence will include Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn, Jake Gardiner, Keith Aulie, Carl Gunnarsson and Cody Franson.

Liles did not practice with the team on Thursday morning but does hope to resume skating within days.

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/@zeisberger


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