Toronto Maple Leafs: 5 Reasons James Reimer Can Be the Answer in Goal
I know what you're thinking. It's only been three games and already the Leafs fans are planning the parade.
While that may be true to some, it's important to me to point out the positive aspects of a team that has been lacking in positives for some time so bear with me.
The third period against Ottawa aside, Reimer has been playing rather well for Toronto so far this year and he looks to be able to continue in this form throughout the year. Needless to say, Reimer is the man in Toronto and he is the undisputed goalie to start for the Leafs for the foreseeable future.
Why, you ask? Let's see.
He Stops the Puck...a Lot
Last year, Reimer placed 30th in the NHL in shots faced over the season with 1134, 100 behind Peter Budaj who played eight more games than him.
What this means is that Reimer as the Leafs' starting goalie in the second half of the year faced almost as many total shots per game as the guys who were playing since day one.
That's not okay.
Well, it is okay if he's coming out positively from those high shot games. And he is.
Reimer is managing solid goals against average playing with a defense that allows way too many shots on goal, which is something that very good goalies do.
Take the season opener: a 2-0 shutout for Reimer in which the Leafs were out-shot 32-18. My point exactly.
He Grinds Out Shutouts
Last season, Reimer recorded three shutouts in his 37 games played. That placed him tied for 20th in the league, eight behind leader Henrik Lundqvist.
Considering no one is expecting Reimer to be Lundqvist, let's focus on who he was tied with at 20.
Marc Andre Fleury posted three shutouts in 65 games played. That's almost half of what Reimer accomplished. Fleury is a Stanley Cup winner and the goalie who helped Pittsburgh make the playoffs without Crosby or Malkin last year.
Reimer definitely doesn't have the Penguins playing in front of him but he still manages to shut out his opponents.
He's a Fan Favorite in Toronto
Something that is certainly tough to do is be a sophomore starting goalie and win over the fans in the intense hockey city of Toronto.
The nickname and logo of Optimus Reim have stuck so well that Reimer painted the logo on the side of his helmet.
The fans love him and cheer every save he makes (trust me I was at the season opener) and just can't get enough of their young, budding goaltender.
Things couldn't be better for Reimer and the fans right now.
He's Young and Growing with the Team
At the tender age of 23, Reimer is three years younger than the Leafs' average age which is the second youngest in the league.
Even though he is so young, he is performing at a high level and proving to the fans that this team of 20-year-olds can get it done on a nightly basis.
It's nice to see him maturing as a starting goalie and getting better before the fans' eyes and they are responding to that. It's tough to see anyone else in the Leafs' system take over for him right now or in the near future.
Reimer Can Be the Answer in Goal Because He Has To Be
Toronto fans are thankful that they have a starting goalie to be proud of and it would be way too much to ask to have a backup that is respectable as well.
Reimer must play well and be the definite starter because Toronto has no other options. Any other goalie in the system is either too inexperienced or simply not good enough to start for a team that is trying so hard to return to the playoffs.
Reimer is the man right now because he has to be, but he has also earned that spot. As long as he keeps up a decent level of play he will be the starter.
Let's hope that he does keep up his play for a long, long time.