Leafs Appear To Dodge Bullet With Reimer Escaping Collision Uninjured

NEW YORK — It seems a little silly to suggest that the Toronto Maple Leafs dodged a bullet in an easy 6-3 win over the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.  And, after the way last season unfolded, perhaps it might seem shocking to suggest that the potential loss of James Reimer would be a significant one, given that Jonathan Bernier emerged as the clear number one.

But this isn’t last year.  Thankfully, Reimer, who has a history of head injuries, appears to be fine after being struck in the mask by Dominic Moore with approximately 13:15 remaining in Toronto’s blowout victory in the Rangers home opener while Moore was driving to the net.  Reimer, who was down on the ice for a few seconds, skated over to the bench during the stoppage, told head coach Randy Carlyle he wasn’t feeling well, and skated to the dressing room after being replaced by Bernier.

The Trentonian asked teammate James van Riemsdyk, who was one of 11 Leafs players with at least one point, about the scary moment.

“It’s never easy to see that sort of thing,” he said. “It was kind of a freak play too, it kind of looked like he got caught in a rut or something.  Hopefully, it’s not too serious, because he played a hell of a game tonight.”

Bernier had struggled in his first two starts, allowing nine goals on 73 shots.  Reimer, meanwhile was dazzling at times on Sunday, stopping 24 of the 26 shots he faced — including an early barrage in which the Rangers dominated the first two minutes of play — before being removed from the game.  While Toronto had veteran Drew MacIntyre in the fold last season as somewhat of an insurance policy, this year is different.  The unproven duo of Antoine Bibeau and Christopher Gibson serve as the current tandem for their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, making Reimer’s insistence that he was fine after the game all the more important.

“I got bumped in the head, and protocol is to come out,” Reimer said.  “(I feel) pretty good.  When you get a bump in the head…I felt like I could stay in the game, but I feel fine.”

Moving on from the injury front, the win was a significant one for the Maple Leafs, especially after suffering a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins the night before.  Van Riemsdyk admitted it was a big confidence boost for his club.

“When you get kicked around like we did last night in our own building, to come here — a tough building to play in and the home opener for them — obviously, you know what kind of team they were and what kind of team they are this year.  We knew it was going to be a big challenge.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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