The Toronto Maple Leafs won a nail-biter against the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night in overtime by a score of 5-4.
It shouldn't have turned out the way it did, and it wouldn't have had James Reimer been allowed to stay in net the entire game.
Reimer was the recipient of an unintentional head shot by Habs captain Brian Gionta. Gionta was assessed a minor penalty (goalie interference) on the play.
Reimer played the rest of the period, but was replaced by Jonas Gustavsson at the start of the second period.
At the time of writing, it is unclear whether Reimer sustained an injury or if he was just kept out of the rest of the game as a precaution.
The hit looked pretty bad, but I will not speculate on how Reimer is feeling right now. I am, however, wondering what will happen to the Leafs if Reimer is indeed injured. And even if he isn't injured right now, what will happen if he gets injured at some later point in the season?
Again, the Leafs should not have won in a nail-biter. They should have won it decisively in regulation.
Less than two minutes in, Travis Moen scored a nice shorthanded goal for the Habs, but David Steckel replied just over five minutes later for the Leafs.
Shortly after that goal by Steckel, the Leafs got into some penalty trouble, losing Luke Schenn and Mike Brown to holding the stick and charging, respectively.
The Canadiens not only failed to get their power play set up despite having a two-man advantage, they even took a too-many-men penalty to negate the second Leaf penalty.
I knew at that point that if the game kept going the way it was going, the Leafs would have an easy win on their hands.
The first shot he faces goes in. Time of the goal was 00:29 into the second period.
Oh boy, we're in for a tight game.
So back to my question of what happens to the Leafs if and when James Reimer gets injured (either now or later).
The obvious part is that Gustavsson would become the temporary starter, while Ben Scrivens would undoubtedly get a call-up from the Marlies.
So far, in one-and-two-thirds regular season games this season, Gustavsson has let in nine goals. Is it too early to judge his play?
Alright, let's look at his NHL career as a whole. Has Gustavsson impressed or lived up to the hype at all? No, he hasn't.
I don't mean to be too harsh on him, but the point is that the Leafs will have no hope of making the playoffs if Reimer misses more than a few games due to injury.
Right now, things are going relatively well for the Leafs.
As a result of the OT win in Montreal and Buffalo's loss against Tampa Bay, the Leafs became the Northeast Division leaders. Phil Kessel picked up a goal and an assist in the game to maintain his league lead in goals and points.
No doubt a lot of Leafs fans are feeling great about the Leafs so far this season, but Reimer's sudden absence (and what ensued) was a sobering reminder of how tight a line they are walking between being a playoff team and a basement team.
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