January 02 2011 07:24AM
James Reimer made his first NHL start last night, his previous experience being 14 minutes of relief work against Atlanta where he only saw four shots.
Reimer's start came in Ottawa which is probably a great idea for new Leafs goalies: it'll be a pro-Leafs crowd without the microscopic scrutiny of playing in Toronto.
Reimer played a very technical game last night. He didn't make any sprawling saves because he didn't have to. In that sense he's a very "Allaire" goalie in the vein of J.S. Giguere before he turned 200 and forgot where the top of the crease was. Reimer played big in the net all night and let pucks come to him.
Reimer stopped 32 of 33 shots for a 0.969 SV% on the night. This is the highest single game save percentage by a Leafs goaltender in almost a full calendar year; dating back to J.S. Giguere's pair of shutouts when he joined the Leafs.
Reimer's obviously a young prospect, just 22 years old, and the Leafs can afford to be patient with him but at this stage in the game Reimer deserves another start. He doesn't deserve the starting job and he should probably be worked up to tougher opponents slowly.
Small sample size against a bad opponent or not Reimer gave the Leafs the best goaltending performance they've gotten all season. Giguere and Gustavsson have both played bad opponents and neither have impressed much this year. Don't pencil Reimer in as "franchise savior" but looking sharp in your debut sure beats looking crummy.