Team Effect: Just how good has Reimer been?

Team Effect: Just how good has Reimer been?

Reimer on the forecheck. (Photo Credit: Reuters)

You probably don’t need the following statistical breakdown to know the answer to the above question. I’ll try to keep the anointing oil on the shelf but we haven’t had a Leaf rookie step into the lineup and make this type of immediate impact since Felix Potvin. Just as the post-lockout plight of terrible goaltending looked to be continuing to haunt the Leafs, the new year brought new hope; Optimus Reim rolled out, and Leafs Nation has been walking in a Reimer wonderland ever since.

Last night I  decided to play with some numbers and simple math in an attempt to measure the team effect of Reimer’s great play:

  • Firstly, it’s important to note that shots per sixty have actually increased with Reimer in net. In 45 games of Gustavsson and/or Giguere in net, the Leafs allowed 1393 shots against in 2,856 minutes for an average of 29.3 shots per 60 minutes. Reimer has faced 888 shots over 1612 minutes for an average 33 shots per 60 minutes.
  • The Leafs have scored 86 goals with Reimer in net (I went boxscore by boxscore to account for part games). Their average goals for per 60 with Reimer is 3.2, an average which would stack up fifth in the league if the the Reimer-backed Leafs could play at the same rate over the full season to date. The Leafs currently stand 25th in the category. If you made the hypothetical extrapolation of goals for with Reimer in net over the full 74 games (pretending there wouldn’t be some regression or that he didn’t need breaks), the Leafs would have scored 219 goals – 28 more goals than the 191 they have actually scored.
  • The Leafs have been scored on 67 times with Reimer in net over his 1612 minutes for a GAA of 2.49 per 60. The Leafs would be tied for eight in the league in GA/G if they played at this average throughout the full season to date. To make the same extrapolation as above with GF for goals against, the Leafs would have allowed only 184 goals in 74 games, 31 goals less than the 225 they actually have let in.
  • His bounce back ability has helped the Leafs avoid prolonged slumps and dips in confidence. We’ve seen it after his weaker performances of the season against Pittsburgh (Feb. 26), Chicago and Tampa Bay. Just as the losses to Chicago, Philly and NYI (OT) saw his SV% dip below .920 to .918 he has recovered with very solid outings against Carolina, Boston and Minnesota and is now back up to .925.

The goals against improvement is not news to anybody. A netminder providing top five goaltending will always greatly help reduce your goals against, although it’s fun to quantify just how drastically improved the Leafs are in the category since Reimer’s takeover. The most interesting revelation is a similarly drastic improvement in the Leafs offence avec Reimer. An offence that currently sits 24th in the league in goals for per game at 2.58 has been playing at a 3.2 goals for per 60 rate with Reimer in net. You could argue the departure of Versteeg and arrival of Lupul has created a better  balance and chemistry among the forward ranks and to a certain degree you would be right in my estimation. To me, It more speaks to the positive team effect of good goaltending. From the defence to the forwards, the confidence in the man between the pipes that not every turnover or gamble will end up in the back of the net greatly changes player mentality on the ice, particularly for a young squad like the Leafs. Reimer just breathes it with his composure, winning smile and blase demeanor that belies his NHL experience. Ron Wilson has been quoted as saying he’s never seen Reimer score a goal yet or lead a two-on-one rush, but he appears to be providing the confidence to create more of those situations.

Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]

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