October 27 2011 10:51PM
This is an article about James Reimer's post-goal body language.
Before I begin, I should point out that this post comes with a number of caveats. First, I should point out that I am making no guesses about what goes on in Reimer's head. I don't know if he's feeling confident or not, or what else he might think about after being scored on. The second point I should be clear on is that I recognize that we're really discussing minutiae here, so let's just keep this in context. Reimer has had a good start to the season.
The main reason I think a post like this is still worthwhile is that the venerable Justin Goldman (of The Goalie Guild) wrote so often last season of James Reimer's fantastic body language. Here's an exerpt from an interview with Goldman in an article by James Mirtle at the Globe and Mail:
"But when Reimer has suffered a loss or given up a bad goal, he has not allowed that to kill or weaken his confidence. His ability to "bounce back" has been very impressive as well. He has only lost two games in a row once this season, and I think that ability to shake off a bad game (or a bad goal) has been a major reason why he continues to play so well. On top of this, he has a very positive attitude and a very strong work ethic. He's composed, even-keeled and he rarely displays negative body language. Those are all key traits you want a rookie can display; they are all signs of strong mental toughness. So if something goes wrong or he has a bad outing, he has the work ethic and confidence to overcome it"
In the pre-season, I noted that Reimer appeared frustrated by a few goals, and I wondered on Twitter whether his attitude had changed from last season to now. Goldman replied that maintaining an appropriate level of confidence is one of Reimer's biggest challenges this year, and that it will be very difficult to remain positive in the light of last season's (overall) success. Below, is a paragraph from his 2011-12 preview for James Reimer, as posted on MLHS :
"Not only are their expectations to manage and live up to, but those expectations come from all over. He expects to play at the same level, as did his coaches, teammates and fans. Those expectations will continue to climb higher and higher as time goes on, which is just part of the territory that comes along with wearing a Maple Leafs uniform."
So how has he done so far this season? Are there any noticeable trends in his post-goal reactions?
After looking at each of his goals against this season - OK, so there are only 14 GA in 6 GP, but who's complaining about that? - I'd say that the only noticeable reaction is that he takes a little longer to stand up, and occasionally remains temporarily frozen in the position he was scored on. Take, for example, this image:
This was a bit of a soft goal against Colorado. The puck just managed to find its way between Reimer's arm and his body. It was a from a good distance out, and we can see that Reimer doesn't look happy about it, but there is no stick-bashing, no shouting his defenders, or anything remotely noteworthy except for a slumped, staring-at-the-ice position. Reimer remained almost motionless after being scored on for a few seconds, and then stood up, ready to go.
There were two other goals like this one in the Colorado game, one being pictured at the top of this article.
Here is another example of a similar reaction:
Reimer allowed a rebound on the play (a power play, as you can see from the TSN info), and the rookie Mark Schieffle managed to notch his first career goal. This was not a terrible goal for Reimer, as there was no defender picking up the man or clearing the rebound for him, but again, Reimer stares at the ice, frozen for just a few seconds.
Now Let's Not Get Crazy
James Reimer's confidence is something that we can't measure, or even observe very accurately. But most people would agree that body language is something worth keeping tabs on, especially for a position such as goaltending, where confidence is so important.
So far, the vast majority of Reimer's reactions look good. He gets up, shakes off the goal, and, as far as we can tell, he maintains his focus.
Keeping tabs on his body language as the season progresses, however, may reveal more, but we'll have to wait and see.
This will also serve as an interesting comparison when we look at Jonas Gustavsson's body language shortly. Stay tuned.