Maple Leafs Notebook: Reaves predicts Rempe ‘will be a menace’ in NHL

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ryan Reves spoke to the media about how the fight against Matt Rempe transpired, where he ranks in his toughest opponents, and their discussion in the penalty box afterwards.

TORONTO — Adrenaline still coursing through his veins, Ryan Reaves has difficulty sleeping even after low-event games.

Makes sense, then, that the Toronto Maple Leafs‘ tough guy didn’t shut his eyes until 6:30 a.m. Sunday, following Saturday night’s heavyweight tilt versus New York Rangers cyclone Matt Rempe.

“Honestly, the media hyped it up so much that the first period was almost like, ‘Hey, let’s just get it out of the way.’ And then he said no, which is completely fine. You know, game didn’t really call for it. So, we left it alone,” Reaves, sporting a shiner near his left eye, said Monday.

“And then, obviously, he buries Boosh.”

That would be renewed Leaf Ilya Lyubushkin, whom the six-foot-eight Rempe trucked with pace into the corner, forcing the defenceman out of action.

Reaves, naturally, invited the rookie again.

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And, with the approval of the Rangers bench, Rempe obliged.

“Good on him for doing it. He’s a big boy,” said Reaves, who figures Rempe is the tallest man he’s ever scrapped with.

Reaves didn’t throw a ton of fists early as he was trying to be patient and establish a proper jersey hold before chucking.

It was an even and spirited match that has voters split: 41 per cent for Rempe; 38 per cent for Reaves; and 20 per cent ruling draw.

The two combatants shared mutual respect from the penalty box.

“He’s a really nice kid. He talked about how the media pumped it up so much, and he’s like, ‘Two Original Six teams going at it, and all everybody was talking about was a fight.’ It was almost cool to see because it shows that fighting is not dead in the sport. People still kinda get amped up for it,” Reaves said. “Seems to be a really nice, humble kid.

“He’s going to be a menace in this league.”

Lyubushkin clears protocol

That sound you hear is Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe exhaling relief.

His righty is all right.

Defenceman Lyubushkin wasn’t feeling so hot immediately after getting crunched by a charging Rempe and was removed from Saturday’s shootout win to undergo concussion protocol.

The recently reacquired defenceman cleared all health tests Sunday and participated in Monday’s morning skate alongside Morgan Rielly.

“As it turns out, a lot of the discomfort he was dealing with was in the neck and shoulder. Some discomfort in the head,” Keefe said.

Lyubushkin assures he was back to normal Sunday and is “pumped” to wear the Leafs sweater again.

“I feel good,” Lyubushkin said. “I saw him coming, but I didn’t have time to protect myself. It’s hockey. These things happen sometimes.”

Whose crease is it?

With Martin Jones, Toronto’s veteran insurance policy, taking a backseat again, the red-hot Maple Leafs have a two-goalie battle for starts.

Win and you’re not necessarily in.

Both Ilya Samsonov (stellar Saturday) and Joseph Woll (solid Thursday) are coming off wins. Both want action.

And with the Leafs staring at four games over six nights this week, the good news is that Keefe plans to “play the calendar” and give both his guys some run.

“We have two guys we trust,” the coach said.

With six weeks till playoffs, the internal competition to start Game 1 is on.

Why Nylander got benched

William Nylander may have (sort of) redeemed himself after Saturday’s mini benching by responding with a key goal, but that doesn’t mean Keefe isn’t keeping a close eye on the Bertuzzi–Domi–Nylander line.

The coach met with that offensively dangerous trio Friday to drill down on their play without the puck. So, when he caught Nylander “purposely stepping outside the structure” and that loose play resulted in a Rangers goal, he sat his star for the next couple shifts.

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“I probably wouldn’t have been as sensitive to it [Saturday] if we didn’t have a meeting just the day before,” Keefe said.

“We’re increasing the accountability for all of our players.”

A tired Nylander also committed a risky line change in the 3-on-3 overtime that resulted in a frightening odd-man rush for New York. Luckily, Samsonov bailed him out.

Nylander was not made available to reporters post-game Saturday nor at Monday’s skate.

One-Timers: Leafs-Bruins is a potential playoff preview. “Biggest game of the week,” Reaves said … Bruins forward Pavel Zacha left Saturday’s loss early to injury. He skated Monday morning and will be a game-time decision … Matt Grzelcyk replaces Derek Forbort on Boston’s blueline … Jeremy Swayman is the Bruins’ projected starting goalie … Winger Noah Gregor and defenceman William Lagesson are Toronto’s projected scratches.

Maple Leafs projected lines Monday vs. Boston Bruins

Knies – Matthews – Marner

Bertuzzi – Domi – Nylander

McMann – Tavares – Järnkrok

Hölmberg – Kämpf – Reaves

Brodie – Liljegren

Rielly – Lyubushkin

Benoit – McCabe



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