March 18, 2011
Rookie Reimer speaks up
By LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - James Reimer is getting a bit more comfortable stating his views in the media, and on Friday that meant telling critics of Ron Wilson’s handling of the goalies to lay off.
Reimer assured he was not put off by the coach’s decision not to play him on Thursday in Florida after a 36-save performance in Carolina on Wednesday. It was explained to him by Wilson a few days earlier that the games would be split in some fashion and that was good enough for the rookie. He was particularly disturbed that some fans have decided he’s a better alternative to the 33-year-old Giguere, who is 10 years his senior.
“I think it’s a little ridiculous,” Reimer said. “He’s a world-class goaltender. I’m just trying to learn from him every day. He’s got so much skill and he makes things look so easy out there. I wish I was half the goaltender he was. I sure hope none of that stuff gets around to him.”
Reimer insists he benefited from getting the complete day off in South Florida, getting in some sun while Jonas Gustavsson made his first appearance in weeks with the Leafs as the backup.
“I want to be in the best possible shape for the next few games,” Reimer said.
Games such as Saturday mean a lot to defenceman Keith Aulie when he gets to play against someone he measures his progress against, Zdeno Chara. Aulie is 6-foot-5, but Chara still has four inches on him and is mobile with a good shot to boot.
“I look at a player like that, I see his stature, his strength, how well he moves the puck and how well he skates for a big guy,” Aulie said. “That’s my goal, to get where he is, to dominate a game, especially into playoffs. I’ve spent a lot of time watching players like that to see how much I can improve.”
And like Chara, Aulie must fight battles for smaller teammates as he did Thursday for Darryl Boyce, stepping in to fight Ryan Carter of the Panthers after a hit the Leafs didn’t like.
“I know that has to be part of my game,” Aulie said. “I’m a big, strong guy and must show that I’m here for my teammates.”
It was the trade of Tomas Kaberle to Boston that helped open the door for Aulie to play up to 26 minutes a night. On Saturday they will face each other as rivals.
“It’s always different playing a guy you just played with,” Aulie said. “With him moving on, it meant more opportunity for a guy such as me. I’m just trying to take advantage of that. But at the same time, we all wish Tomas the best of luck.”
Defenceman Mike Komisarek’s lower-body injury has now been identified as a groin issue by Wilson, but that doesn’t mean he’s any closer to returning. Brett Lebda and Matt Lashoff will continue as the No. 5 and 6 pairing for now ... With Nazem Kadri’s recall, the third since the trade deadline, the Leafs have just one more farmhand they can summon, unless they’re in an emergency situation ... A total of four alternate captains traded or sidelined by injuries this year (Kaberle, Komisarek, Francois Beauchemin, and Colby Armstrong), the A was being worn by Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski on Thursday... Part of Friday’s practice was a 2-on-2 drill using a tennis ball with the nets set close together. Skaters blasted away to their heart’s content on the goalies. They enjoyed it so much they spent part of the post-practice shooting drills using the green orbs ... The blanking in Florida on Thursday was the 11th time this season that the Leafs have been shut out.