James Reimer has not won every game he has played. I know, it's weird. Leafs fans think a goalie has potential and are enjoying his good play even though he is not perfect. The vast majority of Leafs fans understand how player development works. They will have read Jeff Blair's excellent article and understood that it was really written for the vocal minority that calls into LeafsTalk after every loss and wants everyone fired and fellow journalists that believe that those dimwits represent the fanbase at large.
JP's morning links a couple of days ago wondered at whether Reimer might be getting ground down a bit from being started 13 straight games. I think it's a mental grind for a rookie to step into a situation where you are debuting in your career and are being asked to go every game and be the lynchpin that keeps the team winning. Is he getting physically worn down? He may be since he hasn't played a very heavy workload over the past handful of seasons. Ron Wilson says otherwise:
"I’m sick of hearing that," said Wilson, following Wednesday’s game, backtracking from his earlier suggestion. "Reims isn’t tired and he’s going to have some nights where he’s not as good as he is on other nights. That’s like everybody in this league."
Justin Goldman took a good look at Reimer's recent play and I think that today's Noon Number highlights just how mentally strong Reimer has been in bouncing back from his poor performances.
The table below looks at Reimer's six bad starts (any sub-.900sv%) and his performance in his next six starts:
|Bad Games||Bounce Back Games|
The Pittsburgh game is the only one of the six in which he followed up a bad performance, by my metric, with another one. The combined save percentage in those games was .925. I think that based on what we've seen in his interviews, Reimer is extremely hard on himself and always looking to be better the next time out. Jonas Siegel has a great quotation about Reimer's reaction to the suggestions of some, especially the Lightning, that he is being found out:
"I don’t know if I was ticked off, I just thought it was disrespectful to Francois Allaire," said Reimer. "He’s a great coach and to say something like that I think is it kind of minimizes what he’s done. I wanted to go out there and prove that his coaching is superior. That’s kind of how I felt about it.
"He’s coached a few goalies that have a bit of success. Patrick Roy, [J.S.] Giguere, and [Jonas] Hiller and [Ilya] Bryzgalov, I think those are pretty darn good goalies. To say something like that, it gets to you and it gave me a little extra motivation."
That's music to my ears. Other than after his first one, I think Wilson has done a good job of recognizing that trait in his goalie and working with it. Obviously, part of that is simply that Wison's other option is The Towel. Either way you slice it, it looks good on Reimer.