James Reimer

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 09:  Michael Sgarbossa #48 of the Florida Panthers is congratulated after scoring a goal during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at BB&T Center on February 9, 2017 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Yes, the Florida Panthers are indeed on fire

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The Florida Panthers are on a ridiculous roll right now. They’re even hotter than the also-quite-hot St. Louis Blues.

You could practically hear the air leave the building in St. Louis as Vincent Trocheck‘s goal made it 2-1 with just five seconds remaining in regulation. To little surprise, that ended up being the final score on Monday in what was otherwise quite the goaltending duel between James Reimer and Jake Allen.

The Panthers won all five games of what seemed to be a harrowing road trip on paper:

Feb. 11: 7-4 win against Predators
Feb. 15: 6-5 OT win against Sharks
Feb. 17: 4-1 win against Ducks
Feb. 18: 3-2 win vs. Kings
Tonight: 2-1 win over St. Louis

The Panthers now face a four-game homestand to close out February and also play seven of eight in Florida. (Actually, eight of nine, as they close out that run by visiting the Lightning on March 11).

Anyway, the Cats are in the catbird seat, and they finish the night back in front of the Boston Bruins for third in the Atlantic Division:

1. Canadiens – 70 points in 59 GP
2. Senators: 68 in 57
3. Panthers – 66 in 58

Bruins – 66 in 59
Maple Leafs – 65 in 58
Sabres – 62 in 60
Lightning – 60 in 58
Red Wings – 58 in 59

As you can see, games in hand stand as Florida’s advantage over Boston, but with the Bruins holding the second wild card spot, the Panthers’ position in the playoff picture is clear (if vulnerable).

Again, it wasn’t like the Panthers outright dominated the Blues.

St. Louis and Florida both looked sharp in this one, but the Blues have lost two straight games in regulation after reeling off a six-game winning streak. With a ton of road games on the docket through the next month, the Blues will just need to keep fighting.

At least Mike Yeo has an easy team to point to in explaining how the Blues can overcome such challenges.

Video: Reimer, Allen shut down dangerous one-timers

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 09:  James Reimer #34 of the Florida Panthers makes a save during a game against the Los Angeles Kings at BB&T Center on February 9, 2017 in Sunrise, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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In an ideal world, goalie equipment wouldn’t be such an issue. Teams would be able to “get goalies moving” with great passing and chances just about no one could stop.

Then again, there are also those saves that a select handful of humans can pull off. A big reason why there’s only been one goal between the Panthers and Blues tonight is the lateral movement shown by both James Reimer and Jake Allen.

First, watch as Reimer robs Jori Lehtera on what’s likely the save of the night:

Allen really hasn’t been that far behind Reimer, right down to making a similar stop:

Considering the two nearly identical one-timer goals scored by Arizona against Anaheim in finding seams for big passes through opposing defenses, tonight’s goalies might want to do some extra stretching during intermissions.

Goalie nods: Panthers go back to red-hot Reimer

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 18:  James Reimer #34 of the Florida Panthers makes a save against Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at the Amalie Arena on October 18, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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Florida’s found an ideal situation in goal.

James Reimer, who’s been terrific for the last three months, will make his sixth appearance in the last nine games when the Panthers take on the Blues in St. Louis tonight. The start comes just three days after his last — a stellar 35-save effort in a 4-1 win in Anaheim — and two nights after Roberto Luongo stopped 33 of 35 in a win over the Kings.

So yeah, nice little dynamic at play here.

Luongo, who turns 38 in April, was fatigued down the stretch last year and admitted as much following an opening-round playoff loss to the Isles. That was one of the big reasons Florida brought aboard Reimer, inking him to a fairly lucrative five-year, $17 million deal.

After a bit of a rough start, Reimer has been full value. He turned things around with a solid December (.941 save percentage), and continued that over to the new year. Things have really taken off lately, though, as his stellar play has given head coach Tom Rowe the luxury of resting Luongo, knowing that Reimer will provide stability in goal.

Consider what Reimer’s done over the last three weeks alone:

Jan. 26: Stopped 31 of 32 shots in a 2-1 win over Tampa Bay.

Feb. 3: Stopped 22 of 23 shots in a 2-1 win over Anaheim.

Feb. 15: Stopped both shots faced in relief of Luongo in an OT win over San Jose.

Feb. 17: The aforementioned 35-save victory over the Ducks.

Reimer’s only poor outing was on Feb 9. when he was hooked after allowing three goals on 14 shots against L.A.

For the Blues, Jake Allen gets the start.

Elsewhere…

— Just one other game on the slate tonight, as the Ducks take on the Coyotes in Arizona. Mike Smith will go for the ‘Yotes, after making 29 saves in a win over San Jose on Saturday. For Anaheim, no word on a starter yet. John Gibson shut out the Kings last night, so he could be in line for a break — but that said, he’s been outstanding over the last two months, and head coach Randy Carlyle could opt to go right back to him.

Goalie nods: After replacing Luongo last game, Reimer starts for Panthers

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 18:  James Reimer #34 of the Florida Panthers makes a save against Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period at the Amalie Arena on October 18, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
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James Reimer‘s last appearance wasn’t long, but it was significant.

Reimer came on in relief of a cramped-up Roberto Luongo in Wednesday’s OT win over San Jose, and stopped both shots faced to earn the W. Now, he gets a shot at a second straight victory, as he’ll go for Florida when it takes on the Ducks in Anaheim.

As we wrote about earlier, Reimer has really turned his season around. After signing a fairly lucrative five-year, $17 million deal with the Panthers last summer, Reimer had a tough start. He posted a .907 save percentage in October and a .890 in November, and had just one regulation win in his first nine appearances.

Since then he’s been rock solid, especially lately. Reimer has three wins in his last four appearances, posting a .930 save percentage over that span (allowing just five total goals).

For the Ducks, John Gibson gets the start in goal.

Elsewhere…

— In Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky looks to right the ship as the Penguins come to town. Bobrovsky has played well in spurts lately, but has lost six of his last eight starts. For Pittsburgh, Matt Murray‘s in goal.

Cam Ward gets the start for Carolina as the ‘Canes come out of their bye week with a home date against the Avs. Calvin Pickard will start again for Colorado, though head coach Jared Bednar said AHL recall Jeremy Smith will make his second-ever NHL appearance soon.

Sharks shouldn’t feel pressured to add veteran backup goalie

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Aaron Dell #30 of the San Jose Sharks warms up prior to the start of the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 15, 2016 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
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One of the big moves made by the San Jose Sharks last season was to add goaltender James Reimer in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

It was a move that not only gave them a reliable backup in the event that something happened to starter Martin Jones, but also one that could give him a couple of nights off down the stretch to keep him fresh for for the postseason (Reimer played eight games).

Jones ended up being one of the Sharks’ best players on their way to the Stanley Cup Final.

With the NHL trade deadline less than two weeks to go it is a position in San Jose that is once again drawing some attention.

Currently the Sharks have 27-year-old Aaron Dell serving as Jones’ backup, and to this point he has played exceptionally well with a .930 save percentage — and one shutout — in 11 games this season.

The concern, if there is one, is that those 11 games that Dell has appeared in this season are the only games he has played in his NHL career, meaning he is still really untested at the NHL level.

For some, that might be a concern, but it doesn’t appear to be one for the Sharks at this point, especially when it comes to coach Pete DeBoer. Here is DeBoer talking about his backup, via Kevin Kurz of CSN Bay Area.

“I don’t know what else he could do to show that he’s an NHL caliber goalie so far,” DeBoer said on Feb. 11. “Those are decisions that Doug [Wilson] makes, but in my mind, that’s not an issue right now for us.”

Along with the fact that Dell has played so well this season — admittedly in a very brief sampling of games — the Sharks do not really have a ton of prime draft picks to trade for a veteran backup goalie, owning no second-or third-round picks over the next two years.

Plus, you’re talking about a position that is likely to only a play a handful of games the rest of the way and it is unlikely to outperform what Dell has done so far this season.

Do you really want to give up a decent prospect for that?

The lack of experience for Dell might be a concern, but again, he has been outstanding at the NHL level this season and has consistently posted a better than .920 save percentage in the AHL over the past few years.

The best thing for the Sharks to do at this point is to give Dell a few more starts down the stretch to not only get him some more game action, but to also simply give Jones (who has already played in 49 games this season) a little bit of a break.