Once it was a foregone conclusion that the Toronto Maple Leafs would call it a season come mid-April and leave the Bruins with a top-five draft pick for June.
With a recent 8-2-4 stretch, the Leafs changed those plans. But Sunday night there was hope for another collapse of Toronto, as rookie goaltender James Reimer had to leave with an injury.
Any hopes for the Bruins that Reimer might be out long-term and leave the Leafs with the less-than-dynamic duo of J.S. Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson for the stretch run were dashed Tuesday when Reimer reported to practice and showed no ill-effects from what ailed him in Atlanta Sunday night.
It has been feared Reimer was suffering from a concussion.
For this season, Reimer has posted a 10-4-3 record, including a win over the Bruins Feb. 15, with a .929 save percentage and 2.31 goals-against average.
Reimer’s return, combined with the Leafs’ decision to not strip their roster more before Monday’s trade deadline — leading scorer Clafrke MacArthur was one player in some hot rumors — keeps Toronto on the path to a potential playoff berth. The Leafs start play tonight against Pittsburgh (with Reimer likely in goal) just six points back of eighth-place Carolina and seven points back of seventh-place New York in the Eastern Conference race.
The odds are still better that the Bruins will get a top-10 pick from Toronto than a first-round playoff test, but with Reimer available the Leafs have more legitimate chance to still beat those odds than they wouldn’t have had he been lost to them.