Leafs' playoff hopes rest on Reimer

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer looks on during a break in play against the New Jersey...

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer looks on during a break in play against the New Jersey Devils during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Toronto February 10, 2011. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:44 PM ET

TORONTO - The Maple Leafs say they dont want to be scoreboard gazing. But with just 19 games remaining in their regular season and them being six points out of the eighth and final playoff spot, its tough not to pay attention to what the other teams in the Eastern Conference are doing.

Weve been saying the whole time that we dont want to sit at home and scoreboard watch, forward Joffrey Lupul said after the Leafs pre-game skate on Wednesday morning. Its kind of natural to do so but, again, weve have three more games this week and if we win these, were in a good position. Its more about what we want to do right now. If we play really well through these last 19 games, well be in.

The Leafs will be laying their playoff hopes on the shoulders of netminder James Reimer. Ron Wilson said after the morning skate he wouldnt have bet a plug nickel that hed be one of our goalies this year.

We wanted him to play in the minors and continue to develop and get better, Wilson said. Circumstances have allowed him an opportunity and hes taken advantage of it.

Wilson had already said he was going to run with Reimer (10-4-3, 2.31 GAA, .929 SV%) for the remainder of the season, or as long as the Leafs are in the playoff hunt. For Wednesday nights game at home against the injury-riddled Pittsburgh Penguins, at least, Wilson will be sticking to those words and the same lineup that has been in place for the past several games.

Toronto (27-27-9) gets its post-trade deadline part of the schedule going against the Penguins (37-21-6), who will be without stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as well as a host of other players. Its the second consecutive game the Leafs will host the Penguins, and Toronto will be looking for a little redemption after losing a wild 6-5 shootout on Saturday night, the third consecutive time the Penguins have won at the ACC.

We didnt quite play the way we would have liked to, especially in the third period when we had the lead. So its nice to get another crack at them, said Lupul, who scored a pair of goals in the contest.

Quick Hits:

Lupul on linemate Phil Kessel, who has eight points in his past four games: I dont know if Ive played with a player quite like him in my career. Hes kind of a game-breaker. When hes on a role like this, you just look to get him the puck. He can make something out of nothing.

Reimer on taking over the starters role for the Leafs: Its a crazy story, really. When youre a kid you dream about it. I remember my kindergarten yearbook. What do you want to be when you grow up? You want to be a hockey player, right?


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