Toronto Maple Leafs' James Reimer: Optimus Reim Ready to Roll

Louis PisanoAnalyst IMarch 2, 2011

TORONTO, CANADA - FEBRUARY 26: James Reimer #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs guards the net during the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the Air Canada Centre February 26, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

James Reimer, who couldn’t continue (not for a lack of trying), after receiving a shot to the head in a game against Atlanta that the Leafs eventually lost in overtime after his replacement—the recently shaky J.S. Giguere—gave up a 2-0 lead, will start tonight against the Penguins.

The Leafs are now carrying three goaltenders after having to recall Jonas Gustavsson from his two-week conditioning stint with the AHL-affiliate Marlies.

Giguere and Gustavsson have been injured and inconsistent while the young Optimus Reim, as he’s been dubbed, has been seemingly a savior in what was looking like another problematic season for the buds, although they’ve made a number of changes to the roster over the season.

Toronto has risen from the depths of the basement in the NHL and now sit 23rd overall while having clawed their way to 10th overall in the Eastern Conference standings. They sit just four points behind ninth-place Buffalo Sabres and six points behind the coveted eighth-place Carolina Hurricanes, who are clinging onto that last playoff spot.

With 19 games remaining, Leafs nation is hoping on the slim chance that they can battle their way into the playoffs. states that the Leafs have only a 3.9 percent chance of making the playoffs.

However, if you’ve ever watched any of the poker on television that gained hold of viewers due to the hockey lockout, you’ve seen the percentages of players hitting hands throughout play. The chances of hitting the river with two outs (4.35 percent) is slightly better than the chances of the Leafs making the playoffs, but the fact of the matter is that we’ve seen it happen!

With Reimer’s return Leafs nation and coaching staff hope the buds can pull off the previously unthinkable.

Granted, its going to be a tough task for Toronto to slide into the playoffs with a number of tough opponents in remaining schedule. But most in Leafs nation had no expectations of the playoffs or even to be in the hunt for a playoff spot come March, yet, here we stand.

At least six of the last nine goals Reimer has allowed during the Montreal and Pittsburgh games were screened, seeing-eye shots. When he’s had a good look at the puck, he’s been stellar.

The confidence the Leafs seem to have in Reimer, contrary to the other two goalies, is a bit of a conundrum.

Reimer, though quiet, has better communication skills than the young Swede Gustavsson. With Giguere, you have to figure his groin injury hasn’t completely healed, which is why limited, if any, offers came in previous to the trade deadline.

Hopefully Reimer’s great run continues, his neck won’t bother him and the Leafs can protect him for the rest of the season while they strive for the promised land as the regular season winds down.


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