February 11, 2013
James Reimer gets start as Leafs at home against Flyers
By DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency
TORONTO - The Luke Schenn-James van Riemsdyk show officially kicked into high gear on Monday as the Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers hit the Air Canada Centre ice for their morning skates in preparation for tonight’s 7 p.m. start.
It’s the first time the two teams have met since van Riemsdyk and Schenn, both first rounders, were swapped for each other last summer on June 23.
“It’s one of those games where obviously when the schedule comes out you kind of take notice as to what it is,” van Riemsdyk said. “Like I’ve said before, I had some great years and great memories in Philly, the fans there, played with a lot of great teammates there, made a lot of great friends there, but it’s part of the business to move on, so that’s what we’re going to have to do tonight.”
Van Riemsdyk was taken second overall by the Flyers in the 2007 draft but has fitted nicely with Toronto, giving the team some added offensive punch, while the Leafs took Schenn fifth overall in 2008.
It was originally thought that Schenn, who played four seasons in Toronto, could be a core piece of the blueline here for years to come, but was dealt as the Leafs sought another top-six forward.
“It’s obviously pretty exciting being back here, felt like it wouldn’t come forever because of the lockout. But when the schedule came out, this is obviously the game to look forward to and it’s exciting to be back,” said Schenn, who is now playing on the same team with his younger brother, forward Brayden. “(The trade) is over and done with, it’s in the past. Obviously (Toronto) has moved on and I’m pretty happy here in Philly. I’m just looking forward to playing here tonight, just being back at the Air Canada Centre and playing in front of the fans again.”
Lost in the shuffle of the Schenn-van Riemsdyk circus was the fact that goaltender James Reimer will be getting his third consecutive start and fifth in six games as the Leafs try to turn around their fortunes at home after going 3-0 on their latest road trip.
“Overall, I thought we had a great road trip. Now coming into tonight, we need more of the same. The road trip doesn’t mean much if we can’t win here tonight,” Reimer said. “When you’re playing a lot, you have a chance to get into a groove. I’m just thankful for the opportunity I’ve been given and hopefully as a team we can keep making the most of the opportunities that have been given to us.”
The Leafs have won just once at home (1-4-0) this season but will have to turn that around if they want to make it to the playoffs.
“Obviously it’s a place where we want to win. When you come home, this is the part of your schedule where you need to make the most of it, especially if you want to go far in the playoffs. You have to make this a hard building to come into. We’ve talked about it and we know what we have to do,” Reimer said.
Toronto has not had it easy against the Flyers in recent times. Philadelphia has won five in a row at the ACC and is 9-1-0 overall in its last 10 against the Leafs. But while Toronto has struggled at home, the Flyers have been equally poor on the road so far, going only 1-5-0.
“We’ve been flat and we’ve done some things that weren’t very good in the game, but we’ve played some good hockey here,” coach Randy Carlyle said of Toronto’s misfortunes at home. “Now the issue is, how do we get over that? That’s part of the process ... Focus on the things you can control. It doesn’t matter what building you play in.”
Both injured defenceman Carl Gunnarsson and scrappy forward Mike Brown were out for the morning skate. Neither will play in tonight’s game, but Carlyle said Brown is closest to returning.
“Brownie will probably be made available before Gunnarsson,” Carlyle said. “But both are progressing, they are getting close. Brown is closer than Gunnarsson. Gunnarsson has really practised, hasn’t really been able to go at 100% yet. We’re waiting for that, and then the tough decisions start (as to lineup changes – if any when both players are ready to go).”