Don't Forget Where You Came From

Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
March 19 2014 04:04PM

raycroft can't stop a beachball

While getting ready for tonight's games (I'm on both Leafs and Marlies duty tonight, so don't judge me if I mix up some names in the recaps), I've been doing my usual combing through Twitter and various spots on the internet, looking for what the word is on just about anything Leafs related. I'm seeing quotes from players defending James Reimer's "bad year". Articles explaining his "poor performance".

There's no doubt that Jonathan Bernier has been the better of the two. The newest addition between the pipes is undoubtedly the Leafs' MVP, which is amazing to say with Phil Kessel near the top of NHL scoring. But Reimer hasn't been bad. Far from it.

I'm not going to go into a massive breakdown of the rest of the league. I don't think that's really necessary; his save percentage is above the NHL average at the moment, and he's got a very impressive 0.925 save percentage in even strength situations, in the top third of the league. Instead, I'd just like you to take a look at a sampling of the Leafs regular goaltenders, other than him, since the 2005 lockout:

Name Year GP MIN GA GAA W L OTL SO SV SA SV% LAVG SA60
Reimer 13/14 29 1456 77 3.17 11 10 1 1 819 896 0.914 0.913 36.9
Gustavsson 11/12 42 2301 112 2.92 17 17 4 4 1035 1147 0.902 0.914 29.9
Giguere 10/11 33 1633 78 2.87 11 11 4 0 699 777 0.9 0.913 28.6
Gustavsson 10/11 23 1242 68 3.29 6 13 2 0 552 620 0.89 0.913 29.9
Gustavsson 09/10 42 2340 112 2.87 16 15 9 1 1034 1146 0.902 0.911 29.4
Toskala 09/10 26 1393 85 3.66 7 12 3 1 591 676 0.874 0.911 29.1
Toskala 08/09 53 3056 166 3.26 22 17 11 1 1352 1518 0.891 0.908 29.8
Joseph 08/09 21 841 50 3.57 5 9 1 0 333 383 0.869 0.908 27.3
Gerber 08/09 12 706 38 3.23 6 5 0 0 364 402 0.905 0.908 34.1
Toskala 07/08 66 3837 175 2.74 33 25 6 3 1649 1824 0.904 0.909 28.5
Raycroft 07/08 19 965 63 3.92 2 9 5 1 446 509 0.876 0.909 31.6
Raycroft 06/07 72 4108 205 2.99 37 25 9 2 1726 1931 0.894 0.905 28.2
Aubin 06/07 20 804 46 3.43 3 5 2 0 325 371 0.876 0.905 27.7
Belfour 05/06 49 2897 159 3.29 22 22 4 0 1317 1476 0.892 0.901 30.6
Tellqvist 05/06 25 1399 73 3.13 10 11 2 2 624 697 0.895 0.901 29.9

Until Reimer came on the scene, the Leafs were plagued with underachieving goaltenders. Keep the following things in mind.

  • 06/07 Andrew Raycroft has the most wins in a season in Leafs history.
  • 07/08 Vesa Toskala was considered a "saviour" after Raycroft.
  • 08/09 Martin Gerber is looked back on fondly because of just how bad everybody else is.
  • Most of Leafs Nation's favourite moment of 08/09 was the one three or four minute stretch where Curtis Joseph was not brutal.
  • If this year's James Reimer played the same amount of minutes as Raycroft did in 06/07, he'd set the record for most shots against in NHL history.

Now, Reimer has had an off year (2011/12) while in Toronto as well (though playing most of the season with post-concussion symptoms probably caused it). But this isn't it. The Leafs have been incredibly fortunate to have him, along with Ben Scrivens and now Jonathan Bernier in between the pipes over the last two years. 

The goaltending now is probably the best it's been for this team in decades, possibly even going back to Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk in the late 60's; Bernier is having a year for the Leafs history books, and Reimer is probably the best, most reliable backup that this team has had in decades. Just because the Leafs bleed shots on goal doesn't mean he's not stopping the bulk of them, and just because he's not having an elite year like last season doesn't stop him from being one of the league's better goalies.

Whether there's an internal conflict of opinion or not, there's no need for there to be controversy amongst the fans. Appreciate what you have now.

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I bring news about the Toronto Marlies, opinions about the Toronto Maple Leafs, and a bunch of ridiculous thoughts about everything else.
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#1 leafer2013
March 19 2014, 08:48PM
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I disagree with these number as they are misleading. Anyone who watches hockey knows that Reimer is the better goalie and the team doesn't play strong defence for him like they do with Bernier.

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#2 Jon
March 19 2014, 04:40PM
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"just because he's not having an elite year like last season doesn't stop him from being one of the league's better goalies."

That's the issue, the Leafs need elite goaltending to have a chance of a win.

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#3 Cam Thornton
March 19 2014, 05:05PM
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@Jon

While I understand what you mean by that in the leafs current state, they need a different coach/system/whatever that doesn't have them outshot to hell. I honestly would love to see any goaltender placed in Reimer/Bernier's position and see how they handled it (Lundqvist, Miller, Luongo, etc). If the Leafs didn't trade Rask, would he be the goalie he is facing as many shots as they do?

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#4 TGT23
March 19 2014, 10:04PM
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@leafer2013

The numbers are always misleading when they don't prove whatever point you're trying to make.

So... You think the Leafs are playing strong defense in front of Bernier?

And I love the "anyone who knows hockey agrees with me" argument. Basically saying "I'm right, the stats are wrong, all facts not agreeing with me are misleading, if you don't agree with me you're an idiot and don't know hockey."...

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#5 John Lofranco
March 20 2014, 12:40PM
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"possibly even going back to Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk in the late 60's"

Come on Ken Wregget and Alan Bester are rolling over in their retirement homes...lol.

Seriously though, Reimer's good. I'd give him a few more games though. Seems to me both goalies were rolling nicely in the fall when there was a more even split of work. This idea that you have to have a number one guy is silly. A 45/37 split of games would be fine.

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