His goaltending apparently back in proper alignment following James Reimer’s head scare on Thursday night Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle has turned his attention to the next obstacle on his team’s schedule. Considering Carlyle has discussed several times in the past few days the importance of tightening up defensively he shuddered to think what could happen if the Leafs don’t buckle down against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City on Saturday night. “If we don’t play to a higher level I’m sure the score will be a lot more lopsided in Chicago’s favour than in our favour” Carlyle said after the Leafs practised at the MasterCard Centre during the noon hour on Friday. “We are a hockey club that is still trying to find its game. We know we are playing the Stanley Cup champions so we’d better beware.” There was a clear sense of relief in the dressing room and on the ice when Reimer participated in practice. Not quite 17 hours earlier the netminder disappeared into the bowels of the Air Canada Centre during a game against the Carolina Hurricanes after teammate Josh Leivo accidentally plowed into his head and neck. Reimer said the memories of Oct. 22 2011 when the Canadiens’ Brian Gionta crashed into him in Montreal — causing neck and head issues that required months of recovery — filtered through his brain as he tried to get his wits following the collision with Leivo. Though a headache bothered him Thursday night it mostly was gone by the time he went to bed and Reimer felt fine when he awoke on Friday morning. “Even when I was on the ice I wanted to stay in there and did not want to come out of the game” Reimer said. “It’s safe to say it was just protocol (to leave the game) and hopefully we can move on. “You never want to be out for whatever reason especially with a head injury. Sometimes you don’t really know. I am glad everything is feeling great and I shouldn’t miss a beat.” There was further good news on the matter of injuries as forward James van Riemsdyk who has missed the past two games with back spasms practised as well. Carlyle said there is a “good chance” van Riemsdyk will be in the lineup against Dave Bolland’s former team.
Tighten up, Leafs ... or else!
Toronto Sun | Oct 19