There is one theme about Randy Carlyle’s Leafs that doesn’t seem to change. Despite being outshot 37-14, the Leafs got another strong performance out of their goaltender (this time the unflappable James Reimer) and scored timely goals to dispatch the visiting Minnesota Wild 4-1. Here are a few thoughts from the game:
Reimer Rides Again
Reports of James Reimer’s demise appear to be greatly exaggerated. Reimer saw his first start in 10 days and turned away 36 shots to lead his team to victory. His teammates didn’t help matters by taking six penalties, but the Wild offense simply couldn’t solve Reimer. Their only goal was by Jason Pominville during a first period power play in which he buried his own rebound with no one bothering to cover him in front of the net. Carlyle doesn’t have an easy decision on his hands picking the starter for Thursday night’s game, but it’s clear Reimer will not go quietly into the night with Jonathan Bernier in the mix.
Next Man Up
James van Riemsdyk sat out the game with an upper body injury, meaning Trevor Smith slotted in on the fourth line. He responded by scoring the Leafs second goal, shooting the puck through Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper’s five-hole on a partial breakaway. He was sent in on a great feed by Morgan Rielly from the Leafs’ end. Young Leafs like Rielly, Carter Ashton, Josh Leivo, David Broll and Troy Bodie have done an admirable job filling in for David Clarkson, Nikolai Kulemin and Mark Fraser. The fact the Leafs have been able to win games despite these injuries and Clarkson’s suspension speaks to the team’s overall depth and Carlyle’s ability to put these players in situations to succeed.
Not Enough Shots
As much as the Leafs deserve credit for putting pucks past Kuemper, they didn’t give themselves enough opportunities to do so. Very rarely will they be playing against a third-string goalie like they did last night. Much of this game was just plain ugly, as the Leafs couldn’t get the puck out of their zone and were hemmed in by the Wild. Phil Kessel, for the first time this year, was held without a shot. That simply just can’t happen for the Leafs to win on a regular basis. A big reason for that was the absence of van Riemsdyk on the top line, but Carlyle needs to do a better job of getting Kessel involved.