Kessel 'a little banged up'
LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
|Toronto Maple Leafs practice at at the Mastercard Centre on Oct. 28, 2011. Phil Kessel arrives. (MICHAEL PEAKE/QMI Agency)
The Maple Leafs can win some games without James Reimer, but they wouldn’t want to push their luck minus Phil Kessel.
These being unusual times where the diagnosis of team injuries are concerned, there was plenty of interest when top gun Phil Kessel departed practice about 10 minutes into workouts on Friday at the MasterCard Centre.
Kessel did not appear afterwards, but coach Ron Wilson tried to play down speculation that something is amiss with the NHL’s leading point getter ahead of Saturday’s home game against Pittsburgh.
“I expect Phil to play tomorrow, he’s a little banged up,” Wilson said. “The way he’s playing, he doesn’t really have to practice. Today was only 35 minutes of high-tempo skating and after 10 minutes, he decided he’d rather take the rest of the day off.”
Kessel took a couple of hits in Thursday’s 4-2 win in New York and with the Leafs playing back-to-back weekend games, some leeway was understandable.
But there will be no start for Reimer until at least Sunday in Ottawa. After getting hit in the head a week ago in Montreal and missing a start due to ‘whiplash-like effects,’ Reimer was scheduled to play in New York before a headache caused the Leafs to go back to Jonas Gustavsson. Reimer was then put on a seven-day IR stint that ends Saturday.
After Gustavsson innocently mentioned the word concussion on Thursday (even though the Leafs officially aren’t calling it that), Wilson was not about to get into details about how his No. 1 goalie is doing on a day-to-day basis.
“I may (know more), but I’m not going to share that, I’m not obligated,” a defensive Wilson said. “He won’t be playing tomorrow, I expect him to be ready Sunday.”
Gustavsson said his comment was “blown out of proportion,” but he put himself back in good stead with Wilson by stopping 28 of 30 shots against the Rangers. It was his first win in regulation time since Boxing Day and took heat off the coach to give Marlie call-up Ben Scrivens a look on Saturday.
“Jonas played very well last night and getting a couple of games under his belt is only going to increase his confidence,” Wilson said. “Over the course of the year, we’re probably going to need three goalies. We have confidence in all of them.”