Can James Reimer rebound?
While many fans blamed James Reimer for the late season collapse, the truth is that Reimer was the better goaltender from the Olympic break onwards. After the Olympics Bernier saved 339 of 373 shots for a .908 sv%. Bernier saved 310 of 343 shots for a .903 SV%. What matters though is that Bernier went 4-3-2 while Reimer was 2-10.
Apr 12, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs golaie James Reimer (34) makes a save on a breakaway shot from Ottawa Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau (44) in the third period at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
That’s worth remembering when you consider Reimer finished the year 12-16-2 with a .911 SV%. While he was far from ‘bad’ down the stretch, as the Maple Leafs collapsed all around him – giving up at least 30 shots in every single game, he wasn’t stellar which is clearly what this team needed. While that’s not fair to expect of Reimer, or Bernier for that matter, Reimer will need better numbers this year.
Clearly the Maple Leafs need James Reimer, as few teams rely on a single goalie to carry the load. No team had a starting goalie see action in more than 65 games, with Dallas’ Kari Lehtonen leading the way. Bernier saw 55 games last year, a career high. He also got hurt late in the season, possibly from wear and tear his body wasn’t used too. Reimer is going to need to be available for at least 30 games this season, more if Bernier gets injured. He’s proved he can do that twice before. Now he’ll have to do it again.
Reimer has two years left on his new contract and still wants to prove he’s a legitimate starting goalie in the NHL, if not in Toronto then elsewhere. He’ll need to raise his level up after a down year if he’s going to do that.
According to Randy Carlyle though the starters job is still up for grabs. While that’s probably not entirely true, what is true is that Carlyle is going to play the goalie that gives him the best shot at winning, and Reimer has a chance this year to once again prove that’s him.