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…

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.

Toronot Maple Leafs vs New Jersey Devils

EV fenwick chart for 2014-03-23 Maple Leafs 2 at Devils 3

Fenwick chart for 2014-03-23 Maple Leafs 2 at Devils 3

Toronto Maple Leafs vs New Jersey Devils Mar. 24, 2014

Cory Schneider (14-14-9)W23210.91360:00:00
Damien Brunner1012:20230000001
Ryan Carter009:54010212010
Ryane Clowe0113:32110001001
Patrik Elias1017:38110170020
Mark Fayne0020:09002000000
Eric Gelinas008:13010002010
Stephen Gionta0016:45002553000
Andy Greene0021:03002000403
Peter Harrold0117:20220000010
Adam Henrique0119:39110471110
Jaromir Jagr0019:46060000010
Jon Merrill1116:31220001001
Tuomo Ruutu0011:48100002002
Michael Ryder008:06000002000
Bryce Salvador0022:03000001100
Travis Zajac0022:250301490021
Marek Zidlicky0117:34032002301
Dainius Zubrus0018:04000226010


Drew MacIntyre (0-0-0)1414136:04:00
James Reimer (11-13-1)L1070.721:50
Troy Bodie006:44000003000
Dave Bolland009:42000341000
Tyler Bozak1025:13:0002013121000
David Clarkson0010:00-210001000
Cody Franson0021:41130005001
Jake Gardiner0121:40020000000
Tim Gleason0012:47-310001110
Carl Gunnarsson0019:35000000200
Nazem Kadri0014:20-202941100
Phil Kessel1025:00:00140001001
Nikolai Kulemin0013:00-110100000
Joffrey Lupul0018:56-100002001
Jay McClement009:42000571100
Colton Orr002:17002002000
Dion Phaneuf0126:01:00140003011
Mason Raymond0016:58-100000000
Morgan Rielly0118:16-300000010
James van Riemsdyk0026:14:00150010011
Toronto Maple Leafs vs New Jersey Devils Mar. 24, 2014
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