GDT: Leafs at Blues (8 p.m., TSN)
Yesterday’s worrying story from The Star’s Dave Feschuk on James Reimer‘s history of head injuries has been somewhat put to rest in a TSN article tonight. In a story posted around 6:30 p.m., agent Ray Petkau called the injury history overblown, and the word is that Reimer has not experienced a headache in a number of days. Petkau expects Reimer to return to the ice “soon,” and while a specific time table still remains ambiguous, it’s somewhat reassuring after a few days of panicked calls for Burke to acquire goaltending help.
The Leafs are turning back to Ben Scrivens in the meantime, as the 25 year old will start his third NHL game tonight in St. Louis. Solid, if unspectacular goaltending (i.e. without the weak, team-deflating goals) would be extremely useful at this stage as Burke is not in an advantageous bargaining position, nor do we want to rush Reimer back. A steely performance against the Blue Jackets gave way to part games against the Bruins and Panthers in which he looked more like a goalie with only 43 AHL games to his name. The Bruins game was a bit of a write off, and he came into cold against the Panthers, so we can always hope.
The St. Louis Blues won their first game under the aegis of Ken Hitchcock with a 3-0 shutout win over Chicago, and an optimistic Hitchcock said after their game that he was already seeing signs of system buy in and improved special teams performance. Their powerplay, operating at a poultry 9.5%, contributed on one of two opportunities and the penalty kill, 25th in the league at 76.1%, went nine for nine. Even the goaltending situation suddenly looked up as Jaroslav Halak posted a 29-save shutout. It was just his second win this season, however, as Halak enters tonight with a 2-6 record and a .879 save percentage. Brian Elliot has picked up five of the Blues’ seven wins this season.
The Leafs will shift David Steckel onto the third line at center ice, where Matthew Lombardi played last game. Lombardi only won five of 13 faceoffs against the Panthers, while Steckel played a reduced 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Considering what Steckel offers to a line in terms of starting with possession more often than not, and bringing a big body to the cycle, this seems like a shrewd promotion to a third line that has really struggled to make much of an impact so far this season.