Leafs optimistic of Monster's return

LANCE HORNBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:06 PM ET

The sight of Jonas Gustavsson in full equipment stopping pucks had to create some positive vibes for the Maple Leafs Monday at the MasterCard Centre.

The show only lasted until the rest of the team went on the ice and Gustavsson and his sore groin departed. But the Leafs are cautiously optimistic that ‘The Monster’ will be able to come off injured reserve either Monday in Anaheim or a week tomorrow in Dallas.

“You never know with groins,” Gustavsson said. “I’m taking it one day at a time. I took some shots today (for the first time since he went on IR almost two weeks ago). Maybe I will go harder in practice later in the week.”

Gustavsson’s NHL baptism took priority for the Leafs when Vesa Toskala stumbled out of the gate. In five periods before the injury, Gustavsson’s .894 save percentage compared to Toskala’s .812 and made him quite popular in town.

There might be as many as four stoppers jammed on to Thursday’s flight to Vancouver, with Joey MacDonald tabbed to start Saturday against the Canucks, James Reimer backing up, Gustavsson aboard and Toskala presumably getting closer after a knee injury a week ago.

With so much goalie traffic in front of him, the 21-year-old Reimer was prepared to back-up with the Marlies most of this season, but found himself sitting on an NHL bench the past few nights and loving every minute.

“I just keep trying to learn something new every day, to grow and grow and keep preparing so that whenever I get a chance to play, I’m ready as possible,” Reimer said.

“Growing up in Manitoba, we lost the Winnipeg Jets when I was eight-years-old and that was sad. I’d never been to an NHL game until last season (when he briefly joined the Marlies). I’d come to the (ACC) press box and drink it in. Just to be in the rink was great. Now, to be part of the team is unbelievable.

“I hope to be up here a long time, depending on how the other goalies are feeling. But if I do make this trip it will be exciting. My fiancee, April, is from Vancouver and it would be great to have the chance to get out there and see some family.”


Videos

Photos