In last night’s OT loss to Atlanta it looked like James Reimer was holding down the fort just fine. He wasn’t fighting pucks and Atlanta didn’t have any memorable scoring chances. Then Atlanta’s Evander Kane kneed Reimer in the head and with six minutes left in the second, and a 2-0 lead, the Leafs rookie netminder left the game and saw J.S Giguere enter.
Giguere allowed a goal 0:23 into the third period by kicking a rebound past all of his defenders directly into the slot:
Before allowing a goal with 6:00 remaining by kicking a rebound past all of his defenders directly into the slot:
The truth is that having an .898 goaltender give up 3 goals on 25 shots isn’t going to win you a lot of hockey games. The Leafs’ big resurgence has coincided perfectly with the arrival of James Reimer and there aren’t many teams that will lose a lot of games getting .930+ goaltending.
The real troubling issue is that the Leafs didn’t stand up for their rookie goaltender. Evander Kane was assessed a penalty for goaltender interference for kneeing Reimer in the head and this team that’s supposedly built on Brian Burke’s model didn’t stand up for literally their most important player.
I’m not the biggest fan of fighting after every big hit in the NHL but if somebody knees your goalie in the head it’s probably time to snap them in half.
The Leafs better hope Reimer’s not out for long; they left three points on the table against Ottawa, Pittsburgh and now Atlanta and getting Giguere into the game took the Leafs from gaining two points on Atlanta to losing one. In the era of three point games last night very well may have been when the clock struck midnight on the Leafs’ playoff hopes.