February 2, 2011
Reimer likely to start against Hurricanes
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson would not say after practice on Wednesday whether James Reimer or Jean-Sebastien Giguere would start in goal on Thursday night versus the Carolina Hurricanes.
But it probably will be Reimer, who was stellar in eight appearances before the all-star break.
The 22-year-old Reimer is becoming a poster boy for those who spend a few years developing in the minors. He won an East Coast title with South Carolina in 2009 and won 14 games for the Marlies last year, with his solid play this season earning him a call to the Leafs.
“It has a lot to do with paying your dues,” Reimer said. “One full year in the Coast, one full year in the AHL and now this year. And being in Toronto (with the Marlies), you get to see and watch the Maple Leafs and the media around them and the ups and downs of a season, and how players and media and fans respond to good games and bad games.”
The Leafs blocked 24 shots in a win against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, and Wilson wants to see more of that. Two Leafs — Francois Beauchemin (117 blocked shots) and Luke Schenn (96) — are in the top 25 in the NHL. Beauchemin is fifth, Schenn 25th.
“It is a huge tactic in our game now,” Wilson said. “If you are not getting in the way of shots, you really are not helping your team defensively. Shot blocking is way up. It is harder to score because everybody is committed to doing it.”
Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner, the youngest player in the NHL, was named the league’s rookie of the month for January.
The Markham native, who turns 19 in May, had nine goals and five assists in 14 games, and leads all NHL freshmen with 40 points.
“I think we had a pretty good month as a team in January and when the team is playing well, it’s easy to follow as an individual,” Skinner told the Raleigh News-Observer newspaper.
Fred Sjostrom took Mike Brown’s spot on a line with Jay Rosehill and Tim Brent during practice. Brown is day to day with an upper-body injury ... Beauchemin did not play much in the second half versus Florida on Tuesday, and there were some rumours floating around on-line that he was about to be traded. But Wilson said to not read much into Beauchemin’s drop in playing time versus the Panthers. “He is a little banged up right now, so it is affecting his performance.” ... That Leafs general manager Brian Burke liked Brown enough to sign him to a three-year extension should be no surprise. Burke drafted Brown in Vancouver and then had him in Anaheim before trading for him last June.