In Leaf Nation it’s not uncommon for a player to go from “Hero” to “Villain” in a matter of days, especially as a goaltender. Such was the case for James Reimer last season. Since the arrival of Jonathan Bernier to Toronto, Reimer has found himself on the outside looking in.
Reimer does have the ability to be a starting goaltender in the NHL and his numbers are a testament to this notion. The following tables compare James Reimer’s and Ryan Miller‘s statistics in several situations over the past four seasons.
I chose to compare Reimer to Miller for a couple of reasons. The first is, the Buffalo Sabres are just as poor of a hockey team as the Maple Leafs (in terms of GF%, CorsiF%, Shots against, the list goes on). The second reason, Ryan Miller seems to be a hot topic as of late. Miller just signed a deal with the Vancouver Canucks for three years, worth $18 million. He is considered by many to be one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. These advanced statistics should provide a compelling case for Reimer as a legitimate number 1 in the league.
The first table displays Save %, Shots Against per 60 minutes, Fenwick against per 60 minutes (number of unblocked shot attempts by a team) and Goals Against per 60 minutes from the 2010-11 to 2013-14 seasons during 5-on-5 play.
The second table displays the same statistics but for 5-on-5 situations when leading.
Situation: 5-on-5 Leading
The third table displays statistics for 5-on-5 “close” situations. This would be any time when a game is tied, or within one goal in the first and second period. This situation is used to adjust for times when a team sits back on a lead, or when a team goes all out offensively in the third period for example.
Situation: 5-on-5 Close
The final table displays statistics for 5-on-5 situations when Ryan Miller or James Reimer were trailing by one goal.
Situation: 5-on-5 down 1
Not only are Reimer’s numbers consistent with those of Miller’s. Reimer manages to do so while facing a higher average of Shots against and Fenwick against on a yearly basis. In standard 5-on-5 and 5-on-5 leading situations, Reimer seems to find the most success. Reimer’s 2013-14 numbers in “close” and “down 1″ situations regressed a bit unfortunately. Miller on the other hand is consistent in most situations, with the exception of when he’s “Leading.”
It’s easy to sit here and criticize Reimer’s weak glove hand, or inefficient crease management, even his lack of confidence during the latter portion of last season. I can go in depth on potential reasons for this, but it would take away from what we know to be fact. The fact remains, Reimer statistically is just as reliable as Ryan Miller. Playing for a better hockey club, I would expect these numbers to be even more consistent.
Hopefully, Reimer receives his recognition and becomes a number 1 goalie in the NHL again. Still only 26 years of age, he has tremendous upside. As a fan, after witnessing the treatment of Reimer last season, it is my hope that he gets this opportunity.