Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer has heard the stories that he might be getting fatigued.
Rather than complain, however, he openly welcomes the challenge.
With a game Tuesday in Uniondale, N.Y., against the Islanders, the Leafs kicked off an intense stretch in which they will play 10 games in 19 days. By the time this run has ended, it could make or break the team’s aspirations to squeeze into the playoffs.
“It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of games, but the good thing is they are against Eastern Conference opponents.” Reimer said. “It means if we can put a good string together, we can take points away from other teams.
“It’ll be a tough road. It’ll be a good test. Hopefully we come out on top.”
Reimer stressed the need for the Leafs to be resilient. Even though each game takes on a sudden-death feel from here on in, the rookie goalie said the team can not dwell on any losses and must rebound strongly.
Reimer pointed to the 5-3 setback against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre as an example.
“You never want to lose, ever, especially at home,” Reimer said. “Thankfully it was against an out-of-conference team. That’s the one positive. Going ahead we can keep the losing to a minimum and keep winning. There’s a lot of hockey left. And hopefully we can keep it going.”
Leafs coach Ron Wilson never has used the intense schedule as an excuse. But even he was acknowledging the task at hand when he met with the media on Tuesday morning.
“The schedule’s not anything less than daunting,” Wilson said. No matter who we’re playing, Western, Eastern they’re all good teams. When you play that many games in rapid fashion like this you can either gain ground quickly or lose it in a hurry.
“With us we’re looking at it one game at a time.”
A WHOLE LOTTA ROSEY
Beefy forward Jay Rosehill was inserted into the Toronto lineup on Tuesday, with Freddie Sjostrom the odd man out.
“We’re not going to put anyone in jeopardy,” Wilson said after the team’s morning skate on the possibility of Rosehill playing.
By using the word “jeopardy,” Wilson was probably referring to the fact that the Isles were dressing pugilist Zenon Konopka, who entered the game with 239 penalty minutes on the season.
In an ironic twist, Konopka ended up opening the scoring in the second period. The goal was just his second of the season.