TORONTO - James Reimer appears to be okay after a scary and all too familiar incident one night earlier.
The 25-year-old was able to join teammates at practice on Friday and expects to be available for Saturday's game in Chicago against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
"That's the plan," said Reimer of being available this weekend. "With these things you really never know. You have to judge how I'm feeling in the morning again, but the way I feel today I think we should be ready to go for [Saturday]."
Reimer was forced to leave his fourth start of the season against Carolina after just 32 seconds on Thursday night, dinged unintentionally in the neck area by teammate Josh Leivo. He was replaced by Jonathan Bernier in what concluded as a 3-2 loss.
Considering his history with the injury, Reimer is likely to exercise caution.
Back in the fall of 2011, he experienced an eerily similar collision with Montreal captain Brian Gionta. Suffering from what the team described then as "whiplash symptoms" Reimer was kept off the ice for three consecutive days, returning to a single practice before being placed on injured reserve the following day. He would miss the next 18 games and would battle the after-effects of the injury all year long.
Though there was initially confusion as to the nature of the injury in that instance, Reimer and the Leafs later learned it to be neck-related and as a result, feel better prepared to address the current situation in the days ahead.
Reimer had a headache as a result of the collision on Thursday evening, but returned to the team's practice facility on Friday morning free of any such symptoms. In an effort to elevate his heart rate and determine if any issues arose Reimer rode the bike and worked out, free of any trouble.
"If my headache subsided then I wanted to practice," he said, one of three goaltenders at practice, University of Toronto goaltender Michael Nissi also on hand. "Woke up this morning, felt pretty good."
According to the netminder, new league protocol dictated that he depart Thursday's game.
"The trainer evaluates the situation and if he sees that it was a pretty extensive hit to the head then he says you've got to come out," Reimer explained. "I tried to have a discussion with him and say that I was alright. But obviously that wasn't the case in that moment so he made the call that I come out."
"We felt [Thursday] night that it wasn't anything that was going to be prolonged, but you always err on the side of caution in these situations," Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said. "You want to make sure that your player tells you he's 100 per cent ready to go."
Reimer is 2-0-0 so far this season with a .917 save percentage.