Leafs block Reimer from talking

James Reimer will start for the struggling Maple Leafs tonight, 1-5-1 in their past seven games....

James Reimer will start for the struggling Maple Leafs tonight, 1-5-1 in their past seven games. (Craig Robertson/QMI Agency)

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:02 PM ET

TORONTO - Everybody wanted to talk to James Reimer on Thursday morning, but the goaltender didn't want to talk to anyone.

Or at least the Maple Leafs didn't want him talking to anyone — especially after the comments general manager Brian Burke made on TSN Radio.

Reimer is getting the start in net Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks (31-20-7), replacing Jonas Gustavsson after the Swede let in a horrendous goal in overtime against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night, a deflating 4-3 loss after a spirited Toronto comeback.

Everyone was curious who would get the call Thursday as Reimer (11-8-4, 2.98 GAA, .903 SV%) hasn’t exactly been solid between the pipes himself, letting in some suspect goals over a stretch that has seen the Leafs go 1-5-1 in their past seven games.

But he’s the man the Leafs are turning to against the Sharks at the Air Canada Centre as they desperately search for some stability in goal.

Reimer sat quietly in his stall after the Leafs’ morning skate Thursday, a horde of reporters champing at the bit to speak with him but no one being given the OK to do so. And no wonder.

The Leafs probably didn’t want reporters sticking microphones in his face asking him to comment on remarks made by Burke on Wednesday night when he essentially said it was time the Leafs started shopping for another goalie.

So others were left to do the talking for Reimer.

“He prepares just like he does for every game,” defenceman Cody Franson said of Reimer’s start against the Sharks. Reimer’s rough patch “is sometimes just the way it goes. We all go through it a little bit. It’s adversity. It’s a matter of how you look at it and how you want to deal with it.

"Reimer’s a competitor and I’m sure he’s going to be out there tonight giving it his best, and we’ll be out there for him," Franson said.

The Leafs bounced back from some poor play during a Western Canada road swing to go toe-to-toe with the red-hot Devils, but Gustavsson let in three softies — including the deflating overtime gaffe in which he bungled the fielding attempt of a puck that was going harmlessly past the net and basically handed the game to New Jersey.

The performance left Burke to say: “It’s very hard to watch what happened and not wonder if we have enough (in net).”

So Reimer gets the start against Joe Thornton and the Pacific Division-leading Sharks, who are struggling themselves having gone 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, including a 6-3 defeat at the hands of the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night.

This appears, then, to be a good time for Reimer to step up and fill the gaping void in the Leafs net.

“James gets the start tonight, he’s got to stop pucks, he knows that,” coach Ron Wilson said. “Stop the puck, it’s as simple as that.”

Expect Toronto to go with the same lineup it did against the Devils, with forwards Colby Armstrong and Jay Rosehill and defenceman Mike Komisarek sitting.

Wilson said it will be up to Mikhail Grabovski and his linemates, Clarke MacArthur and Nikolai Kulemin, to slow up the Sharks big line of Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski.

“Beat them with speed and maintain possession of the puck as much as possible,” Wilson said.


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