13 déc. 2019
LOS ANGELES – Anze Kopitar looked skyward, unable to comprehend how exactly he had been robbed by the Toronto goaltender. Wholesale Oilers Jerseys . Only it wasnt the extended right pad of his old teammate Jonathan Bernier early in the final frame, it was James Reimer, who stole a night that was supposed to belong to the former King. “Amazing,” said Nazem Kadri of the performance. Replacing an injured Bernier for the final two periods Thursday night, Reimer helped halt the Kings eight-game win streak with 31 saves, steering the Leafs to their second victory in the California triangle and perhaps biggest all season. He was brilliant from start (a late one in this case) to finish. The 25-year-old stopped every shot he faced in 40 busy minutes, including one other rewind-and-replay save on Kopitar in a hectic 17-save second frame. Reimer very nearly had to leave the game himself with an injury (more on that in Five Points), but remained in there to guide the Leafs to their 15th win in the past 22 games (15-4-3) and his first personally in nearly two months. His memorable right-pad stop on Kopitars doorstep attempt in that final frame came on a Kings power-play, the save setting the stage for Mason Raymonds eventual game-winner just seven seconds later. “That was probably the TSN Turning Point where he made that huge save and then we went down on the two-on-one and next thing you know were up a goal and we were able to hang on for the rest of the game,” Kadri said. Formerly the Leafs No. 1 in goal, Reimer has endured a trying season, relegated to the undesired backup position for the better part of the 2014 calendar. He was playing in just his third game since late January, making just six starts in the new year. It was two nights earlier on the second stop through California that he and his teammates were shelled by the Sharks, thumped 6-2 at the SAP Center in San Jose. But here on this night against the Kings, who were gunning to match a franchise record with nine straight wins, they found the means to elude the leagues hottest team on the shoulders of an unlikely candidate. Doubted and dissected constantly throughout his relatively brief NHL career, Reimer had not won a game since Jan. 21. His future with the organization, in light of Berniers ascendance, remains an open question certain to be settled in the summer. “I just came in and did my job,” he said. “Every time you get in there its an opportunity, whether its a full game or half a game or 10 minutes or whatnot. … It was just `Go in there and take care of business – dont think about the future or the past or anything like that. You kind of get those thoughts out of your head because they dont help you very much. So I was just trying to focus on what I had to do technically and mentally to stay sharp.” Coming off a terrific 43-save showing in Anaheim on Monday, Bernier was forced to exit his long-awaited return to the Staples Center after just 20 minutes, pulling himself because of a lower-body injury. It was a disappointing return to say the least. “He was a little sore before the game,” said head coach Randy Carlyle of Bernier, who did not speak to reporters afterward. “And we just said if you cant go let us know and after the first period he felt he wasnt going to be able to give us what we needed and we made a decision that wed go with Reimer.” Randy Carlyle said Bernier had been sore before the game. Bernier told them after the first that he wasnt able to continue. Carlyle was unsure of the extent of the injury (lower-body) and couldnt say whether the team would recall Drew MacIntyre from the Marlies for an upcoming game in Washington. Carlyle also defended the decision to keep Reimer in the net after getting his bell rung in a collision with Jarret Stoll, arguing that Stoll had actually hit the shoulder area. The value of owning two quality goaltenders was never more apparent. Five Points 1. Concerning Collision Two nights after James van Riemsdyk remained down on the ice for a moment or two after a thunderous collision with Dion Phaneuf, Reimer experienced a scary collision himself. Racing to corral a loose puck, he was run over by Jarret Stoll, the left leg of the Kings centre catching him square in the head. “It probably wasnt a very good choice,” said Reimer, “but I went for it, tried to shoot it away and he kind of dove for it and I think his knee or his skate or something just hit me in the head and just kind of rang my bell, thats all.” Reimer remained down on the ice for a few moments after the collision before consulting with the teams medical staff in the TV timeout. He opted to remain in the game without undergoing concussion tests. It was a questionable decision considering his injury history which includes a relatively recent battle with concussion and neck concerns – concerns which date back to an incident with Montreal captain Brian Gionta. “Well I dont think he really actually got kicked in the head,” said Carlyle defiantly. “If you really look at the replay, he didnt really strike him in the head. He hit him more in the shoulder area ... And he said he was fine.” “Obviously there [were] thoughts of coming off,” Reimer said, “but I didnt feel that it really warranted that. Obviously you have a little bit of a headache and stuff like that when you get hit in the head like that, but I felt that I was capable to keep going so I stayed in.” 2. Backup to the Backup There was definite chatter on the Toronto bench about what might happen in the event that Reimer could not continue with Bernier already sidelined for the night. “I was sitting beside Bernie and as soon as that happened I told him to take off his pads I might have to throw ‘em on,” said Kadri with a grin. “It would be somebody, but I dont know who it would be,” said Carlyle, joking that goalie coach Rick St. Croix and former goaltender and assistant coach Scott Gordon both declined. “I asked Colton Orr if he ever played goal and he said no.” Carl Gunnarsson was Reimers choice. “I think his dad was a goalie,” Reimer said. 3. Kadris Follow-up Campaign It took 64 games for Kadri to exceed his exploits of last season, registering his career-high 45th point of the year against the Kings before adding a second point later in the evening. While not nearly as explosive productivity-wise as his first full season in the NHL, Kadri has, nonetheless, had a solid follow-up campaign, on pace for more than 20 goals and 50-plus points. “I think so,” said Kadri, asked if hed taken the desired step forward in his second full season. “Especially just matching up against a lot of those top lines and going against those top centremen. Im still a young player whos trying to figure out what my boundaries as a player [are]. I think just matching me up against the best is only going to make me better.” On this night in L.A, Kadri saw a lot of two former Canadian Olympians, matched up against Mike Richards (2010) and Jeff Carter (2010/2014). He created the Leafs first goal on the power-play, finding a diving Dion Phaneuf in the slot, adding a second point – his 23rd in the past 25 games – on Gunnarssons second goal of the year. “The points are going to come,” said Kadri. “I know that. But I want to become a complete player that this team can trust, offensive zone, neutral zone, defensive zone. Thats really what Im striving towards.” 4. Kadri on the Dot Still only 23, Kadri remains a youthful work in progress, the finer points of the game an ongoing challenge. One such challenge has been the faceoff circle. Kadri is amongst the worst regulars in the league (at about 45 per cent), but feels hes slowly starting to figure it out. “Thats the same as all the young guys, Giroux, Crosby, top centremen in the league, their first couple years they were in the league they were under 50 per cent and thats right where I was hovering,” said Kadri prior to Thursdays game. “I think the last few weeks Ive definitely been able to figure out some tendencies and get a lot better in that area.” Seven-of-17 against the Kings, Kadri has won 51 per cent of his draws over the past five games. He ties the recent improvement to watching film “and just being around the league a little more, knowing what certain centremen are going to do … Just a lot of things Im working out as we go.” 5. Rangers Progression Torontos seven-defender lineup has worked in large part because of Paul Ranger, who has become the roving option for Carlyle. The 29-year-old has finally found a fit in the defensive role envisioned by the coaching staff at the beginning of the season. “Its just a will and a determination that I want to be in the lineup,” said Ranger ahead of Thursdays game. “I want to play. I want to be a part of things. Personally, for me, I want to be able to play and I want to play consistently. I want to play to the best of my ability, to continue to rise, to continue to improve my game every day. Just contribute as much as I can.” Ranger was a healthy scratch in 14 consecutive games before he was reinserted into the lineup as the seventh defender on Feb. 6. He had struggled to that point to establish himself as a viable option on the back-end. Bigger physically than his first go-around in the NHL, he is also being asked to perform with more of a defensive lean, a shift from the offensive player he was for the most part in Tampa. His game now is dependent on physicality and an aggressive “body-first mentality”. “Its an adjustment, a process,” he said. “Adjusting to the style of play here has been a challenge, but it is something that Ive accepted and taken on that challenge. Now I feel like for me its almost instinctual now, to play that way.” Dressing seven against the Kings, no Leaf defender played 20 minutes on Thursday. Stats-Pack 35-40 – Toronto penalty kill over the past 14 games. 256 – Shots for Phil Kessel this season, second behind only Alex Ovechkin. 46 – Points for Nazem Kadri this season, a career-high. 19:29 – Ice-time for Dion Phaneuf against the Kings, most among the Toronto defence. 15-4-3 – Leafs record over the past 22 games. 13-22 – Mark for Jay McClement in the faceoff circle on Thursday night. Special Teams Capsule PP: 1-3 Season: 21% (3rd) PK: 3-4 Season: 78.8% (28th) Quote of the Night “I was sitting beside Bernie and as soon as that happened I told him to take off his pads I might have to throw ‘em on.” - Nazem Kadri, on what the Leafs might do in the event of an injury to James Reimer. Up Next The Leafs continue their five-game road trip in Washington on Sunday afternoon. Cheap Oilers Jerseys . -- Broncos defensive end Derek Wolfe was alert and recovering at a Denver hospital Saturday after suffering seizure-like symptoms when the teams bus pulled into the airport Friday afternoon for the flight to Kansas City. Oilers Jerseys China . - Alex Dostie scored two goals and assisted on another to lead the Gatineau Olympiques to a 5-3 victory over the Drummondville Voltigeurs in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League action on Sunday.MILWAUKEE -- Every shot Caron Butler made helped dull the pain of a recent root canal. Ending a nine-game losing streak? That gave the Milwaukee Bucks veteran forward a reason to smile. Butler scored 30 points two days after major dental work and the Bucks rallied from 13 points down in the third quarter for a 104-101 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. "I dont have that much energy," Butler said with a smile. "Im going to go home, go to sleep. Just relax." A well-deserved break after shooting 12 of 21 and leading the charge by the Bucks bench in the fourth quarter. All on his bobblehead night, too. Butler was questionable for the game because he was still getting over his trip to the dentist. "I wasnt feeling good yesterday, feeling extremely weak," he said. Coach Larry Drew "believed in me tonight and gave me an opportunity. Thats why it was even more special." Brandon Knight added 16 points against the team that traded him in the off-season, while backup centre Miroslav Raduljica added eight points and eight rebounds. He was part of the reserve corps -- with Khris Middleton (10 points) and Luke Ridnour (eight points) -- that helped close the gap. The Bucks trailed 76-63 in the third quarter, largely due to Brandon Jennings, who finished with 30 points for Detroit. But Butler provided a boost with his jumper in the fourth and the Bucks held on late. Josh Smith missed two foul shots with about 5 seconds left and Rodney Stuckey missed a desperation 3 at the buzzer. "Its important we keep the attitude and intensity. I think we got a little comfortable, but we cant let that happen," Jennings said. "No matter what their record is, thats an NBA team over there. At 8-33, the Bucks have the worst record in the NBA, but received a sorely needed confidence boost at the midpoint of the season. "I told our guys after the game, its nice to get off that losing streak. Lets enjoy the moment, remember what this feels like tomorrow," Drew said. "By no stretch of the imagination is losing fun." Knight, who was traaded for Jennings, also had nine assists and six rebounds, while Ersan Ilyasova added 12 points. Edmonton Oilers Gear . . Greg Monroe added 18 points for Detroit and Stuckey finished 23. The last few minutes found Jennings and Knight guarding each other on the perimeter. Jennings blocked Knight with about 7 seconds left, but Smith missed the two foul shots at the other end. The Pistons had one last chance after a contested possession was ruled in favour of Detroit. Stuckeys 3-point attempt from the corner sailed harmlessly into the side of the glass. "We made a few bad decisions on both ends of the floor, but I gave up a lot of offensive rebounds so I have to slap myself on the wrist for that," said centre Andre Drummond, who finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds. A game after going scoreless against the Clippers, Jennings shot 11 of 23 against the team that drafted him in the first round in 2009. Facing off against Knight at one point in the third quarter, Jennings hit a deep 3 to give Detroit a 76-63 lead, then turned to the crowd and pointed his index finger to his forehead. The Bucks started chipping away. With the shot clock winding down at the end of the third quarter, Butler hit a long 3 to get Milwaukee within 84-81. "That was definitely a momentum-changer. If we get that rebound and secure that ball, we go into the fourth up seven or eight points," Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks said. Just another highlight from a memorable game for Butler. His play off the bench was especially important given the Bucks were without starting centre Larry Sanders and veteran guard O.J. Mayo due to illness. As for Butlers bobblehead doll, the likeness was close enough. "It looks like my cousin," he said, "but itll do, we are related." NOTES: The Pistons, the NBAs top offensive rebounding team coming into the night at 14.4 per game, were outrebounded on the offensive glass, 12-9 ... Milwaukee G Luke Ridnour wore a sleeve around the right wrist he sprained on Saturday against the Spurs. ... Milwaukee used its 19th different starting lineup in its 41st game this season. ' ' '