A few clouds darken upbeat Leafs

By Rolf Sturm

Being the eternal realist sort, part of me can’t buy into the general glee surrounding the Maple Leafs current success.

Rounding the quarter pole in this lockout-shortened season, the local team is on a four-game win streak, pounding their last two opponents (Canadiens and Flyers) 11-2 for good measure. A small sample size to be sure but at 8-5 — good enough for 5th in the east, right there with the Penguins. Strange, it doesn’t even look right when reading it.

But as any long-suffering Leafs fan knows even smallish concerns can be elevated to a full-blown crisis in the blink of a Kessel snapshot.

Just the way this market works. We’re snake-bitten and cynical. It’s hard to fight for most blue & white fans for whom the glass mostly appears half empty, anything else appearing to be a cruel mirage.

As for the dreamers and parade route planners, we’ll leave that for another day. I heard one Mickey Rooney type on the airwaves who was so pleased, he predicted a berth in the finals. Fella, get a grip.

Reimer

Leafs hoping James Reimer will make a quick and full recovery from recent knee injury.

Matt Frattin’s knee tune-up notwithstanding, my disquiet stems from James Reimer’s injury during the Flyers’ game. Anything to do with knees – especially in a butterfly-style goalie – is concerning. The official line is a week for recovery, though that seems optimistic for a strained MCL.

Once he’s cleared to play, will he hesitate or have the same effectiveness kicking those pads out? Will re-injuring it cross his mind?

The play leading to the injury was innocuous but Reimer’s reaction was anything but. He laid there for what seemed a minute and couldn’t get off the ice without help. The look on GM Dave Nonis’ face captured by the cameras said it all: He was stunned, just as many Leafs fans were too. With Reimer back on top of his game playing like he did during January 2011, this was a blow.

Reimer is a player you want to cheer for, an aw-shucks sports personality you can’t help but like. We want to see him do well for himself and the team. His recovery and remarkable return to form highlighted by a triumphant 6-0 shutout in his return to Montreal while boasting a .929 save percentage (7th overall) has been nothing less than a thrilling development. But without those kind of numbers in net to prop up their other deficiencies, the team is primed for a fall.

The uneasy fact is Reimer appears to be vulnerable to getting hurt. Is he, as has been speculated, rigorous enough for a long-term a NHL starting goalie? Three fairly serious injuries in 100 games are not confidence inspiring. The questions will begin in earnest: Does he have the chops to play 65 games at a high level in a normal season, let alone the remainder of this one?

It’ll be a tough test for back-up Ben Scrivens in the next 3-4 starts as he takes over the crease from Reimer.

If he falters, expect the Leafs’ outlook go from sunny to stormy in a hurry.

Advertisements

About Rolf Sturm

Sportswriter & blogger, news writer, video journalist, photographer, podcaster
This entry was posted in Hockey and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s