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Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier returns to the ice at optional skate

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier reaches up to glove a shot from the Dallas Stars in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Thursday, Jan. 23, 2014, in Dallas.

Tony Gutierrez/AP

Drew MacIntyre watched Jonathan Bernier from the corner of the ice as the Toronto Maple Leafs' No. 1 goaltender took shots and tested his injured groin.

From that spot, it looked like Bernier was making progress in his first on-ice workout since suffering the injury Thursday in Los Angeles.

"When you go down in that butterfly, it doesn't feel good," MacIntyre said. "If it doesn't hurt when he's going down in the butterfly, then that's a good sign, and it didn't look like he was."

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Bernier did side-to-side and up-and-down movements and also took some shots in his 25 minutes on the ice at Air Canada Centre on Wednesday. The 25-year-old was not made available to reporters after an optional morning skate that included him, MacIntyre and four skaters.

Coach Randy Carlyle was not on the ice and also was not made available to speak to reporters.

That meant there was nothing in the way of an update on Bernier, who took himself out of Thursday's game against the Kings and has not played since.

James Reimer, who relieved Bernier in that game and started in losses at Washington and Detroit, was expected to start Wednesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Reimer did not take part in the skate, and MacIntyre all but confirmed this wouldn't be his long-awaited first career NHL start.

"James isn't here and I did a lot of drills," the 30-year-old minor-league journeyman said. "I guess that's probably a good inkling."

If Reimer does indeed get the nod, it would mark the first time a Leafs goalie started on back-to-back nights this season. The previous 14 times, Carlyle split those games between Reimer and Bernier.

That's not a luxury he has this time around because the Leafs are being careful with Bernier. A source told The Canadian Press on Friday that the injury was not considered very serious, but given the nature of groin injuries, the team is taking precautions.

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MacIntyre, who said he missed a full season at the start of his pro career with hernias that were causing groin problems, understands how bad injuries like this can be for a goalie.

"It's one of the worst. It's so aggravating," he said. "It's very frustrating."

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