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