Sometimes, the best runs in sports happen because a chosen player gets injured.
The NFL may hold the most obvious examples: Drew Bledsoe making way for Tom Brady and Trent Green getting injured so Kurt Warner could conjure some magic.
It’s way, way, waaaay too early to say that Jonathan Bernier‘s injury opened the same door for James Reimer, at least from a long-term standpoint.
That said, the juicier question is: should that be the case?
Don Cherry went out of his way to make an interesting point: management may want Bernier to be “the guy” instead of Reimer.
This often happens with goalies, particularly in the case of a No. 1 who makes more money than his upstart backup. After all, a GM doesn’t want to look dumb in paying more for the lesser option, right?
There’s an interesting wrinkle with Reimer: he’s been the stat-leaning choice for some time, or at least a stat-head darling (as some are still kind to Bernier while also elevating Reimer).
Jonathan Bernier career save percentage .915
James Reimer career save percentage .914
Who should start tonight?
Let’s be clear, though: Reimer’s recent play sure seems like it might force the issue.
Reimer stopped 43 out of 45 shots to help Toronto beat Vancouver 4-2, giving him three straight wins. The Maple Leafs have generated at least a point in five straight games and a 4-1-2 mark in his last seven starts.
That’s not a huge sample, although Reimer’s shown flashes of brilliance before. Can the Maple Leafs really afford to look the other way?
Monday against Dallas, James Reimer gave the Leafs something they haven’t had much of this season — good goaltending.
Reimer stopped 43 of 44 Stars shots, allowing Toronto to beat one of the NHL’s hottest teams by a score of 4-1.
He’ll get another chance tonight against Winnipeg, after Leafs coach Mike Babcock said Reimer “absolutely” earned a second straight start.
“If you’re him, you want to play every night, so to me you play good and you get to start the next game and you make sure you play good again and you get the start after that and you just keep going that way,” Babcock told reporters.
Reimer’s previous three starts had been less than stellar, as evidenced by his overall save percentage of .908, which is still slightly better than Jonathan Bernier‘s .899.
Ondrej Pavelec will start for the Jets. He’s 3-3-1 with a .919 save percentage.
— Brian Elliott will make his first appearance in the Blues’ net since Oct. 24. Jake Allen has started the last four games, including last night’s 3-0 loss to the Kings. Corey Crawford will go for the Blackhawks.
James Reimer will get his first start of the 2015-16 season on Saturday night against Ottawa.
Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock made it clear from the beginning that Jonathan Bernier was going to start on Wednesday against Montreal and Friday in Detroit, while Reimer would get in against the Sens.
“I’ve known this for a long time that (Bernier is) starting and he’s starting on Wednesday and he’s starting on Friday. Reims is starting on Saturday,” Babcock said before the season began.
Things haven’t gone according to plan for Toronto through two games.
Not only have they lost both contests, but Bernier was pulled in yesterday’s 4-0 loss to the Red Wings, and the team has scored only one goal this season.
Reimer, who stopped 12 of 13 shots in just under 40 minutes of action against Detroit, will go up against Craig Anderson.
–Cam Talbot will try to get his first win as an Oiler as they travel to Nashville to take on the Predators. Pekka Rinne will start for the Predators.
–Carey Price and Tuukka Rask will face-off when the Canadiens and Bruins renew hostilities at the TD Garden in Boston.
–Petr Mrazek will be between the pipes when the Red Wings take on the ‘Canes in Carolina. Cam Ward gets the nod for the Hurricanes.