TORONTO – It was the first step toward a return for the injured Leafs number one netminder.
Out since Feb. 11 with a left knee strain, James Reimer participated in his first full on-ice workout at MasterCard Centre on Friday morning. And while he offered no definitive timeline for a return, the 24-year-old said progress was being made, if only in slight steps.
"Day to day," said Reimer of a timeline. "I wish I could tell you I'd be back tomorrow, Monday or the next [game], but unfortunately I can't. It's getting better every day and I'm happy with that. I wish I would've been back a week ago or two weeks ago by now, just waiting for it to heal."
Whenever he does return, the Manitoba native will likely face some hearty competition for his starting job.
Ben Scrivens has stepped into the top role and provided more than adequate relief. In seven games this month, Scrivens has posted a 4-2-0 mark with a 1.73 goals against average and .947 save percentage. His emergence has forced the door of opportunity open even upon Reimer's return.
"One-A and One-B," Randy Carlyle said of his plans for the goaltenders when Reimer rejoins the team. "That's basically the way we'll deal with it. If one guy gets hot he's going to get a chance to run with it."
Reimer had raced out to a strong start himself this season – 2.31 goals against average, .929 save percentage – before he fell to the ice in the second period against the Flyers, unable to put any pressure on his left leg as he was helped to the dressing room.
He returned to the ice earlier this week, hinting at gradual progress.
"Just feel like you can do more and more movements," he said Friday. "There's different movements that tax your legs or your knees more. It's kind of baby steps. You start with one movement and it doesn't feel too good, but the next day you can do it … you're just moving up the ladder."
Reimer will join his teammates this weekend during a brief two-game trip to Ottawa and Philadelphia with Rick St. Croix, the team's goalie coach, expected on hand as well, primarily to provide additional work in the recovery process.