Apr 8, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer (34) attempts to make a save against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs Fail to Appreciate James Reimer

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.

Situation: 5-on-5

Save %
2010-11James Reimer.93333.247.32.2
2010-11Ryan Miller.92630.141.42.2
2011-12James Reimer.91930.943.62.5
2011-12Ryan Miller.92529.640.82.2
2012-13James Reimer.92433.247.52.5
2012-13Ryan Miller.92332.444.92.5
2013-14James Reimer.92236.453.22.8
2013-14Ryan Miller.92031.543.12.5

The second table displays the same statistics but for 5-on-5 situations when leading.

Situation: 5-on-5 Leading

Save %
2010-11James Reimer.94023.332.61.4
2010-11Ryan Miller.92719.727.01.4
2011-12James Reimer.90722.830.72.1
2011-12Ryan Miller.92819.427.01.4
2012-13James Reimer.92725.135.81.8
2012-13Ryan Miller.90417.624.21.7
2013-14James Reimer.93824.635.91.5
2013-14Ryan Miller.89517.925.31.9

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

Save %
2010-11James Reimer.93534.448.22.2
2010-11Ryan Miller.92230.342.22.4
2011-12James Reimer.92230.743.62.4
2011-12Ryan Miller.92930.341.82.2
2012-13James Reimer.93132.847.62.3
2012-13Ryan Miller.92533.646.62.5
2013-14James Reimer.91437.255.03.2
2013-14Ryan Miller.92033.445.22.7

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

Save %
2010-11James Reimer.96330.844.01.1
2010-11Ryan Miller.92829.641.22.1
2011-12James Reimer.90827.238.42.5
2011-12Ryan Miller.92428.738.22.2
2012-13James Reimer.93732.145.62.0
2012-13Ryan Miller.90327.541.42.7
2013-14James Reimer.91136.050.93.2
2013-14Ryan Miller.92930.741.02.2

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.

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Tags: James Reimer Jonathan Bernier Ryan Miller Toronto Maple Leafs

  • http://www.tipofthetower.com William Wilson

    Information? Stats?!
    Who wants that? Certainly not Carlyle… Ignornace, they say, is bliss.

  • Andrew

    The only comparison that matters is Reimer vs. Bernier. People are so quick to criticize the Leafs for not upgrading, and when they get a good bargain on a better goaltender, so the Leafs are then criticized for mistreating Reimer. You can’t have it both ways. In the real world people are replaced every day when better talent comes along. The Leafs got a great deal on Bernier, took advantage of the situation, and brought him into the organization. Bernier then beat Reimer out fair and square. Bernier is a much more technically sound goaltender, while Reimer often gets by on athleticism and desire. I like Reimer, too, but the fact is, athleticism and desire can only get you so far. Eventually luck runs out. The Leafs have done nothing but make their organization better with this move. If the Leafs didn’t upgrade at this position, and Reimer began his descent, all of those individuals claiming Reimer was mistreated would be the first to criticize the Leafs for not upgrading this position – YOU CANT HAVE IT BOTH WAYS! The Leafs did something proactive for once, and they should be commended for this move.

    In addition, stats do not tell the entire story. At best, the correlation between a goaltenders skill and the above statistics is in the .3 to .4 range (and more likely is in the .15 to .3 range) as correlations for complex non-natural science phenomena seldom exceed this range (if they do, you should be weary, because something is wrong). Thus, the total variance in those statistics explained by skill at best is somewhere between 9% (R^2 = .09) and 16% (R^2 = .16). So, best case scenario there’s an additional 84% – 91% of variance in those statistics that is unexplained by a goaltenders skill. Hence, the comparison between Reimer and Miller is interesting at face, but there is a lot more going on that is not being captured in these associations.

  • A13276

    Those stats tell you how ordinary Miller has been since that one great year he had than Reimer. Let’s see now; who was in the net for the collapse of the 2011/2012 season with Ron Wilson as coach; the playoff collapse against the Bruins in the 7th game in the 3rd period with a 4 – 1 lead under Randy Carlyle and last season’s collapse under Carlyle when Bernier went down with injury – common denominator – James Reimer. Those facts tell me all I need to know about Reimer!

  • Welder24

    The guy let in 4 goals in 10 minutes against Boston in Game 7. The apologists will say his team wasn’t good enough. Perhaps, but the reality is that a #1 goalie never lets in 4 goals in 10 minutes…ever! Reimer made his own bed. Leafs upgraded big time with Bernier. Ship Reimer out asap to avoid any distractions. He’ll quickly be sent to the AHL where he belongs.

  • Derek Weatherbee

    I have always enjoyed watching James and feel he fell apart after the concussions he incurred. He was a pretty solid goaltender before then, in my opinion.

    I don’t think he was ever able to make it back to the same goalie he was, before those injuries.

    With bringing in Bernier, with two goalies fighting over the #1 spot, I thought just going back and forth between the two would work very well. To me though, I just feel that could potentially put a strain on a team, when you don’t have a solid #1 and a backup. Even Bernier had his share of injuries last season, with the groin pull in incurred.

    We talk about the goaltending, but I feel with the team as a whole, they all fell apart. With Carlyle, being a defensive type of coach, Dion was being overused way too much, the rest of the defence was very poor. Even though Carlyle is a defensive coach, I feel he didn’t adapt very well, to what he had on the bench, and used some players too much and maybe even too little. During part of the year, when they were winning, they had a tough factor that was really going well players like McLaren for example. When they put some of these guys down to the Marlies, if I remember correctly they started to lose a bit.

    I really feel that the goaltenders we had really bailed out the defence more times than they needed to. You can’t expect goalies to win all the time, when you are allowing 30-40 shots a night.

    Now I am just blabbering, but those are just my thoughts. I am not very smart when it comes to knowing what is the best, but that’s why I am not in the Leafs management.

    You just think with the money this organization has, they could put a winning team on the ice, but really if the media would just lay off a bit, perhaps more players would want to play here in Toronto.

  • Jason Uller

    why not compare his stats with a goalie who played the same number of games? stats decrease under a larger workload. saying Reimers 34 games numbers is = to Millers 61 game season is ridiculous. also if you look at the bigger picture, Reimer has never played as many games as Millers lowest totals as a full time NHLer. Are goalies that play less than half a year starters? not in my opinion.