At some point in the near future, some of you are going to find out who the real James Reimer is. I wrote a post not too long ago about Reimer’s upside and long-term projections and made it clear that I have a great deal of faith in Reimer’s future with the Leafs. Not only does he give the team stable and consistent goaltending, he’s capable of stealing games.
So at what point does the rest of the fan-base follow suit and believe?
You see, this is a fan-base that has severe trust issues. After several turbulent years using such goaltenders as he-who-shall-not-be-named, Jonas ‘Sieve’ Gustavsson, and Andrew ‘I-had-37-wins-in-a-season-once’ Raycroft, it’s been difficult for the fan-base to see anyone not named Quick, Rask, or Lundqvist to be a quality goaltender.
And a quality goaltender is exactly what Reimer is.
And to be honest, I think he’s got the make-up, athleticism, and ambition to be a franchise goaltender.
With Reimer, it’s difficult to find a major flaw in his game-to-game play because he’s consistently good and shows signs of a big leap forward. If there is a criticism, it’s that he cannot stay healthy consistently. Since his first game with the Red Deer Rebels to today, Reimer has only played a full season twice. He has also struggled to bounce back from the lingering effects of a concussion last year. This year, he sprained his knee and was missed for two weeks.
Reimer also has the propensity to give up an inordinate number of rebounds, although this effect is likely due to adapting to a new defensive system with an emphasis on having his defense clear the front of the net of bodies and pucks. However, I think it’s safe to say that he’s far away from his prime years and will likely improve in this area.
Another criticism is that he struggles in the super stupid special skills games known as the shootout. However, this isn’t entirely fair as Tyler Bozak was the ONLY player who scored in the shootout all season. Thankfully, this super stupid special skills thing is for the regular season only.
Reimer’s season started on the bench. By February, he was starting just about every game and winning them. Reimer finished 8th overall in save percentage, 10th overall in GAA among goaltenders with 30 games started or more, 11th in wins, and showed a consistent disregard for allowing pucks in the net when his team was down a man or two. Because of Reimer’s yeoman work in net, the Leafs finished 2nd overall in penalty-killing prowess, a remarkable change after several seasons at or near the bottom under Rotten Ronnie’s regime.
Reimer was an absolute stud in the playoffs, having given up one ugly goal throughout the series against Boston. Games 5 and 6 highlighted an important detail for the Leafs – Reimer can steal games and he doesn’t give a fuck of whatever pressure is thrown at him.
Although the stats bear out that he had a GAA of 2.88 and a save percentage of .923, Reimer faced 272 shots over the course of a series that included two overtimes, several ugly defensive lapses by the Leafs defense, and Boston’s incredible comeback, Reimer was the key reason the Leafs were able to come back from a 3-1 series deficit and make a round of it. Without Reimer’s stud-like performance, the Leafs would not have made the playoffs and more importantly, they would have missed an opportunity to give this fan-base a much needed shot in the arm.
Because of Reimer’s franchise goaltender like season and his impressive performance in the playoffs, I have elected to give him a perfect 10 out of 10 for his efforts.
Reimer’s toe save on Bergeron:
Reimer’s shut-out against the Devils, including a huge pad save on Elias:
Reimer’s two incredible saves, including a diving stick save on Bergeron:
Reimer’s big save on Jagr with seconds left in Game 5:
That’s the real James Reimer, and it’s time for you to rate!