The Toronto Maple Leafs rode a scorching hot James Reimer and his 40 saves to a 4-2 win over the struggling San Jose Sharks. Ron Wilson picked up the 600th win of his career in the process while Clarke MacArthur surpassed his career-high in points with a two goal performance including a refreshingly enthusiastic empty netter. Phil Kessel scored an absolute beauty after taking a feed from Joey Crabb. He let Niemi and two Sharks slide past him before slotting it home. And Carl Gunnarsson, playing the role of Not Lebda, scored the game winner after he deflected a Dion Phaneuf point shot from the slot. Yes, he was lost.
We can talk about the speed and determination with which the Leafs are playing but any evaluation of this four game win streak - 5-1 in 2011 - begins and ends in net. While Jean-Sebastien Giguere has struggled with form and injuries and Jonas Gustavsson has crumbled under the pressure and workload of being number one, James 'Statue' Reimer has taken his opportunity and run with it. For a guy that never had a goalie coach in junior, won an ECHL title and playoff MVP award, and had an injury-filled AHL season, Reimer seems to have come out of nowhere. Certainly, he was an afterthought when Jussi Rynnas was brought in to start for the Marlies. His familiarity with the North American game is probably a big reason of why he got the nod and this is what Reimer has done:
|2010 - James Reimer||6||313||4||1||10||1.92||188||178||.947||0|
Basically, Optimus Reim has snatched the starter's job from the two previous incumbents. I joked that every day Ron Wilson has been telling Reimer that he is going to be demoted unless he gives him a reason not to and Lordosis obliged with the actual wording:
Good night, Statue. Good work. I'll most likely demote you in the morning.
There'll be lots of debate about what is best for his development but I think he's built up enough goodwill/confidence to be able to keep him until he falters. Once he does, rather than grind him into a paste, he can be gently deposited with the Marlies to work out any kinks. Of course, if he doesn't develop any kinks...well, on the bright side for Giguere and Gustavsson, everyone still remembers Wally Pipp.
Happy Time Videos After The Jump
The James Reimer Highlight Pack. Kid made 21 saves in the second period. Wooooo!
A sniper's patience stands Kessel in good stead on his 19th of the year. That puts him on pace for 38 goals.
Dion Phaneuf lays the kind of hit that made him famous on Dany Heatley