Toronto Maple Leafs: James Reimer Proving He's No Back-Up

By Michael Roberts
James Reimer
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

If the rumors of the Edmonton Oilers wanting James Reimer are true, the Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender couldn’t have delivered a better audition for what could be his new club.

Reimer stood on his head making 43 saves while shutting out the Oilers in a 4-0 Maple Leafs victory. It’s no secret around the league Edmonton is desperate for a goaltender and if they weren’t seriously considering acquiring Reimer before, they likely are now after they couldn’t get a single puck past the goaltender despite a flurry of opportunities.

Toronto’s goaltender has looked unbeatable in his last two outings which is why the last thing the club should be doing is looking to move him. Playing in back-to-back games for the first time this season, Reimer turned away 80 of the 81 shots he’s faced in the past two contests. Perhaps even more impressive than turning away that many shots, is the calibre of talent he’s been able to do it against.

First, Reimer stole a game all on his own when he denied victory from Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the offensively-loaded Pittsburgh Penguins. Toronto was outshot in the contest, but it didn’t matter as Reimer was up to the task of turning down two of the world’s best players and their teammates. He followed up the 4-1 victory over the Penguins with an encore performance when he shutout Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the rest of the young Oiler goal-scorers.

Being able to play that well against that type of offensive talent in back-to-back contests proves Reimer is on top of his game. The Maple Leafs would be foolish to move him given that they are set in goal with Reimer and Jonathan Bernier. Both goaltenders have stood on their heads in the first month of the season and are the biggest reason Toronto has a 9-4 record, especially considering the team has been outshot in 12 of their 13 games.

With the ability to rotate between two goaltenders playing at a high-level like Reimer and Bernier, there’s no telling where it’ll lead the Maple Leafs this season. After the first month it’s led them to the top of the Eastern Conference and not many experts saw that coming in their preseason predictions.

After Bernier grabbed the early season headlines with a .930 save percentage and 2.35 goals against average, Reimer has proven there is no back-up goaltender in Toronto with his .949 save percentage and 1.99 goals against average.

Instead, there is only a 1A and a 1B between the pipes for the Maple Leafs.

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