It may have been one of James Reimer’s final starts as a Leaf, depending on how soon Jonathan Bernier returns. It sure has been excruciating to watch this train wreck play out as the team in front of Reimer hasn’t played well enough to help him through his poorest stretch of games as a professional. 14 saves on 14 shots, a few of the challenging variety (the save on Gelinas in the slot was his best of the night), could mean Drew MacIntyre will get the start the next game (if Jonathan Bernier still can’t play).
This latest run of games for Reimer seems to have people running to one polar end of the spectrum or the other; to either lambaste him in a completely over-the-top fashion, or to spring to defend Reimer when it’s plain as day he’s had his chance to run with the net and he dropped the ball at the worst time of the season. It is what it is at this point. 3 goals on 10 shots including a definitive softie, a .870 save percentage over the Leafs‘ 5-game losing streak… it is what it is.
Patrick Elias shouldn’t be allowed to go in alone on Reimer with all the time in the world to walk around him (Rielly’s error). That goal cannot be classified as anything close to Reimer’s fault. And Dave Bolland definitely shouldn’t peel for a change with the imminent danger of a rush coming his way and only one defenceman back. But Reimer’s got to come up with a save on the 1st or 3rd goal. The Leafs allowing too many shots over the course of the season doesn’t change the reality for Reimer in these past three or four crucial games. It’s an unforgiving position, but it’s how being a goalie in the NHL works. You’ve got to come up with a few big saves in these important games to be heralded as a quality starter in this League. Reimer’s fully capable of it, he’s shown he’s capable of it, but he’s not showing it right now and you worry his time here has nearly run its course.
Complete frustration has been written all over Phil Kessel these past couple of losses. He chewed out JvR after getting looked off on a 2v1 in last night’s game versus Montreal, and a similar play happened in the 2nd period tonight, followed by some negative body language and Kessel yelling on the bench (it could be heard over the stream with the sound turned up), “he can do whatever he wants out there,” in reference to JvR.
Season-ruining five-game losing streaks will do this. One one hand, it’s understandable and preferable Kessel is absolutely livid with the latest turn of results; on the other, it’s usually not a constructive thing to be going at one another’s throats on the bench.
That goal on his late rush was going in whether it was off his stick or achieved by him bowling through the goalie and carrying it into the net. He’s seething right now, and all of us fans are right there with him.
As far as consolatory positives go, Rielly and Gardiner continue to be sources of light. It was good to see the pair matched with the top powerplay forward unit, leading to Tyler Bozak’s 3-1 goal. And yet…
Amazing neither Gardiner nor Rielly were on to tie. Perfectly summed up by Phaneuf dumping it in for no reason and no retrieval to end game.
— Anthony Petrielli (@APetrielli) March 24, 2014
The Leafs will need to collect 12 points out of the 18 still up for grabs, with two games against the Blues and Bruins in the final nine. It’s all but over.
Toronto Maple Leafs vs New Jersey Devils Mar. 24, 2014
|NEW JERSEY STATISTICS|
|Cory Schneider (14-14-9)||W||23||21||0.913||60:00:00|
|Drew MacIntyre (0-0-0)||14||14||1||36:04:00|
|James Reimer (11-13-1)||L||10||7||0.7||21:50|
|James van Riemsdyk||0||0||26:14:00||1||5||0||0||1||0||0||1||1|