Thursday’s on-ice adventure in L.A. proved to be quite the rollercoaster ride for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Even though the Leafs ended up with a huge 3-2 win against a formidable west coast opponent in the Los Angeles Kings, they lost their starting goaltender, ex-King Jonathan Bernier, after the first period. And while James Reimer heroically skated in to save the day, the team's dependable No. 2 provided another scare by laying on the ice for about a minute in the second period after getting booted in the head.
Claiming he was A-OK and rebuffing the idea of visiting the “quiet room” (not that it’s his call), Reimer ended up finishing the game. Altogether it was a fairly eventful 60 minutes for the Leafs and members of the Blue & White faithful willing to stay up until the wee morning hours back home.
As it stands, Reimer is believed to be OK. And Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston submits this season’s backup could run with the starter’s gig if Bernier remains out for some time. However, Bernier’s “lower-body injury” may not be all that serious. Darren Dreger suggested as much on TSN radio Friday morning. In any case, coach Randy Carlyle and Co. have more than 48 hours to assess how the netminders are managing. The Leafs are off Friday and Saturday ahead of Sunday’s tilt with the Washington Capitals.
• On the ESPN Insider front, Craig Custance lists the top 25 free agents available this summer. Also, our resident analytics guru, Neil Greenberg, outlines a handful of potential playoff upsets from a fancy stats perspective. Fans of the Montreal Canadiens should be particularly pleased with Greenberg’s latest take.
• So far, newbie Andrej Meszaros is challenging young offensive-defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug for a spot in the lineup with the Boston Bruins. Spoiled for options, chiefly with the man advantage, coach Claude Julien isn't complaining.
• Fantasy players, take note: Looks like Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad is not about to lose his spot alongside Jonathan Toews after all. Word has it Andrew Shaw will be bumped from Toews’ line once Marian Hossa makes his healthy return (within the week?), not Saad.
• Although there’s no timetable for return in place, defenseman Joni Pitkanen fully intends to resume his playing career in the NHL. The 30-year-old has missed all of this season with a broken heel bone. The Carolina Hurricanes blueliner is a free agent this summer.
• Called up from Grand Rapids, forward Teemu Pulkkinen -- and his “wicked one-timer” -- is ready to make his Detroit Red Wings debut Friday. The 22-year-old Finn is penciled in to anchor the Wings’ second power-play unit. Meanwhile, Tomas Jurco could miss up to a month because of a broken rib.
• Fans of the Edmonton Oilers are reportedly less enthused about coughing up serious cash to attend home games, compared to the start the season. In related news, the Oilers are dead last in the Western Conference.
• The agent for Jaromir Jagr sees no issue with hammering out a new deal for his client with the New Jersey Devils this spring/summer. “I don't want to jump the gun, but I think there's a really great chance that he's going to be a New Jersey Devil next year,” Petr Svoboda told NJ.com.
• The No. 1 netminder going forward for the Devils might be determined over the weekend. While Cory Schneider gets the Florida Panthers on Friday, Martin Brodeur draws the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.
• The Pittsburgh Penguins could be without two of their top six forwards this weekend. Both Chris Kunitz and James Neal are considered iffy ahead of the Saturday/Sunday home-and-home series with the Philadelphia Flyers.
• Without a goal (and just the one assist) since joining the New York Rangers at the trade deadline, Martin St. Louis promises to break the seal soon: “Once I get going, I will get going.” Until then, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault can be counted on to shuffle his forward lines relentlessly.