Toronto Maple Leafs Goalie Controversy?


Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Jonathan Bernier will start in goal tonight for the Toronto Maple Leafs, his fourth start in the past five games.

So I guess we can put to rest that lie about them splitting time.

To make matters worse, Bernier has been the far inferior goalie over the last few games and throughout his career.

Don’t believe me? The numbers don’t lie.

Heading into tonight Jonathan Bernier is 10-10-2 with a .925 SV% and 2.55 GAA. Reimer is 7-4-1 with a .928 SV% and 2.81 GAA. At first glance it looks like Bernier has won the starting job with a worse record and worse SV% but with a better GAA.

Now a lot of people will say “woah, Bernier hasn’t won the starting job yet” but look at the numbers and you’ll see that in the eyes of Leafs management, he has.

Reimer has seen at least partial action in 15 games, compared to Bernier’s 23. That’s a gigantic gap for goalies supposedly splitting time. Reimer probably missed only one start when he was injured in October, so his injury doesn’t really affect the numbers.

On top of the unfair split, Reimer always gets the harder starts. Of the seven back to back games so far, not counting games one and two of the season because fatigue wasn’t a factor, Reimer has had the majority. Tonight and tomorrow will be a perfect example of this.

The Leafs will play the much renewed Florida Panthers at the ACC on Tuesday, where Reimer will get the second start in the back to back. That will be their third game in four nights and their seventh in the last 10.

In other words that game has letdown written all over it after battling tough competition like Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Angeles and St. Louis. So naturally, Reimer will have to weather the storm.

Keeping in mind this is the same goalie who after going 19-8-5 with a .924 SV% and 2.46 last year, tying for sixth in shutouts and sitting alone in seventh for SV% and then holding the Leafs into a playoff series that looked all but over after four games, was told he wasn’t good enough.

With glaring needs on defence his GM brought in another goalie. But Reimer didn’t make a big fuss or a big stink about it, he just decided his play would do the talking.

Well it’s working. Reimer is 3-4-1 with a .916 SV% over the last nine games (one no decision). Bernier in his last nine is 2-5-1 with a .902 SV% (one no decision). That’s brutal.

Now in fairness to both the Leafs defence has been terrible at times in front of them, but a .902 SV% over nine games is horrendous. If he played that over an entire season he would be around the level of Evgeni Nabokov who the Islanders are trying to dump or Craig Anderson who has led Ottawa to a tie for fourth last in the conference.

Reimer is better in the shootout too. He’s 2-0 this season compared to 2-2 for Bernier. Reimer’s shootout SV% is .833 to Bernier’s .636.

Could it be possible that Bernier is getting tired from being overworked? The most games he’s ever started is 25 back in 2010-11. He’s on pace to see action in 50 games this season.

Whatever the reason over the last month and a half, if not longer, James Reimer has been the far superior goalie for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Over their careers Reimer is the superior goalie as well. His 60-36-15 record dwarfs Bernier’s 39-30-8. Their SV% is almost identical and while Reimer does have a higher GAA he was playing on a non-playoff team employing AHL defencemen while Bernier had a Stanley Cup champion in front of him.

With Reimer’s contract up after the end of this season and with superior statistics and more games played both in the regular season and the playoffs, James Reimer has everything he needs to prove he’s the best man for the starting job.

The only problem is that for whatever reason Maple Leaf management either hasn’t noticed or doesn’t care.