PHILADELPHIA – The Leafs won't have James Reimer between the pipes when they face off against the Flyers on Monday night.
The 23-year-old suffered a minor neck injury in the opening minutes of Saturday's game against Montreal, departing for precautionary reasons after the first period. Jonas Gustavsson made 15 saves in relief, picking up the victory in a 5-4 overtime triumph. Reimer did not practice in Philadelphia on Sunday and is considered day-to-day with Gustavsson slated to start in his absence.
"I'd be shocked if it was anything more than a couple days," said Reimer, "but you never know. It is looking better because I am lot better today than I was yesterday."
Reimer was clipped in the head by the right elbow of Canadiens captain Brian Gionta in the first minute of what concluded as the Leafs fifth victory this season. With his mask knocked askew following the collision, the Manitoba native appeared shaken for a few brief moments, before continuing on for the remainder of the period. After meeting with team doctors in the intermission, it was deemed with only minutes to spare that he would sit the rest of the game in favour of Gustavsson.
"I don't want to come out in the middle of the play," said Reimer. "It wasn't like it was super aggravating. You want to stay in there for the full period and then get a full evaluation in the intermission.
"The doctors took a look at me and just figured that it'd be best if they erred on the side of caution. I felt bad that I had to put [Gustavsson] in that position, but I thought he played really well. I might have to buy him a dinner or something like that."
Serving as an NHL starter for the first time in his career, Reimer was off to a solid start this season, having compiled a 4-0-1 record with a 2.58 goals against average and .912 save percentage. It's possible that he'll miss just one start with the injury. After Monday, the Leafs don't play again until Thursday night in New York, when they conclude a four-game road-trip against the Rangers.
Reimer suffered a similar injury in Atlanta last season, bumped in the head by the leg of Thrashers (now Jets) forward Evander Kane. Suffering from neck soreness, he left the game after 36 minutes, but returned without missing a start three days later.
Gustavsson meanwhile, made his first start of the season in Boston on Thursday night, surrendering six goals in a 6-2 loss. While shaky at times against the Canadiens two nights later, the third-year netminder did make a few key stops, including a breakaway save on Tomas Plekanec in the dying minutes of the second period.
It was the 26-year-old's first regular season victory since January 6th, when he allowed five goals on 44 shots in a 6-5 shootout win over St. Louis.
"Getting a win under his belt probably takes some of the pressure off," said Ron Wilson, following Sunday's practice. "It'd been a long time since he'd actually won a game. I expect a good performance on [Monday] anyway."
The Leafs will be forced to recall a netminder from the Toronto Marlies to back up Gustavsson versus the Flyers. Ben Scrivens is the likely candidate, having filled the void for a few games last season.