Without the help of a number of shots off the crossbar by the San Jose Sharks, James Reimer of the Toronto Maple Leafs may have been pulled out of the game half way through the second period. Reimer continues to struggle mightily as he has now allowed at least four goals in three of his last five starts for the Buds. Fans of the Leafs are beginning to call for their backup goaltender’s head, as they begin to worry about what would happen if Jonathan Bernier were to get injured before or during the playoffs.
It’s never been clear as to how and why there was so much stock invested into Reimer last season as a No. 1 goalie and even as a backup this season. Whether it was during last year’s first round, Game 7 meltdown against the Boston Bruins or tonight in Northern California, he plays as if he is an absolute nervous wreck every single time he is generously given the start by Randy Carlyle. Reimer somehow finds himself out of position more often than not, all the while acting as if his skates are attached to his knees. Although the Sharks put a lot of pucks on net, Reimer did let some questionable goals in and got some help from the iron that stood still behind him.
Of course, Reimer wasn’t given much help by his teammates on the offensive end of the puck, as the Leafs were outshot badly by the Sharks, 48 to 21. However, the best backup goaltenders in the league embrace the pressure that they suddenly inherit when given the odd start in goal and at least attempt to keep their team in the game for as long as possible. Reimer looked defeated after the second goal he let in.
After Reimer’s performance tonight against the Sharks, it’s clear that the Leafs can’t afford to lose Bernier to injury down the stretch. They need to do everything they can to keep their No. 1 in his rightful spot. As much as Reimer thinks he has what it takes to be a starting goalie in the NHL, he still needs to gain a lot of confidence in himself and become better overall if he wants to land a gig as the go-to-guy in goal.