James Reimer began Thursday night’s game on the end of the bench. By the end, he was being mobbed by his teammates.
Reimer was called into action to begin the second period between his Toronto Maple Leafs and the host L.A. Kings, due to a lower-body injury to Jonathan Bernier. And Reimer was spectacular, stopping all 30 shots he faced. He was under siege in the third period as the Kings first looked for the go-ahead goal and then the equalizer.
In the end, the Leafs prevailed for the 3-2 win. That gives Toronto two wins on their three-game road trip through California, which included games against the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks, in addition to Thursday’s meeting with the Kings.
For the Kings, it ends their winning streak at eight games.
There were some nervous moments before that, as Reimer was shaken up on a collision with Kings’ center Jarret Stoll in the second period.
Reimer was spectacular afterward, particularly in the third period. He robbed Anze Kopitar with the right pad on what looked to be a sure power play goal. Just seconds later, with Toronto on the penalty kill, Leafs’ forward Mason Raymond ripped a slap shot from his off-wing to give the Leafs a 3-2 lead.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are starting James Reimer against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday. It’s his first appearance since Jan. 25.
Reimer, 25, experienced some tough times in his last two games, allowing four goals in each contest despite playing about half of those games. His last contest against the Blue Jackets didn’t go very well, either, as Reimer gave up six goals on 21 shots in a Nov. 25 loss.
Reimer’s had a solid season overall, collecting a 10-6-1 record and .911 save percentage in 24 games played. Jonathan Bernier is running away with the job, yet Reimer has a chance to elbow in on a few more starts with a strong performance against a Blue Jackets team battling to get into playoff position.
It’s been a difficult night for goalies across the National Hockey League on Saturday.
Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer, making his third consecutive start, was yanked from the net after allowing four goals on 19 shots against the Winnipeg Jets. Two of those goals came 37 seconds apart in the second period, as the Jets landed a three-goal lead at the time.
Jonathan Bernier came into the game for Toronto.
And in Montreal, Habs’ goalie Carey Price was pulled after giving up four goals on 26 shots. Not entirely his fault on this occasion. The reeling Canadiens were being outshot 26-3 by the Capitals at one point in the game, as Washington opened up a four-goal lead in a span of 10 minutes and 31 seconds in the second period of that game.
This comes after Columbus Blue Jackets puck stopper Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled in the second period against the Buffalo Sabres.
As we’ve seen during their six-game winning streak, the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most dependent-on-goaltending teams in the NHL. If not for the outstanding play of Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer this season, the Leafs probably aren’t in a playoff position right now.
Statistically, Bernier has been the better of the two netminders, with a .927 save percentage in 36 games. But his partner has been almost as good, at .919 in 22 appearances.
Reimer, 25, is also a restricted free agent — a status that has led to questions for general manager Dave Nonis about next season.
“I haven’t thought that too far, but could I see a scenario where both goalies were back next season? Yes,” Nonis told the National Post yesterday. “We’ve gone this far because of our goaltending. Jon is on a bit of a roll, but James has been really good for us.”
Part of Nonis’s decision will depend on what he’s able to get for Reimer in a trade. The goalie market is a tough one to define. The Los Angeles Kings were only able to garner a third-round pick for Ben Scrivens. Granted, Reimer is two years younger and has more NHL experience than Scrivens.
As NP reporter Michael Traikos notes, “The Leafs, who still have control over Reimer, could re-sign him to a one-year deal at a number similar to what Bernier is making. But with Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf both getting significant raises next season and several key players heading for free agency (Jake Gardiner, Cody Franson, Dave Bolland), bringing back Reimer will not be easy.”
News and notes from around the crease…
Reimer gets a shot
The Leafs will get James Reimer some much-needed game action tonight against Carolina, as he’ll make his first start since allowing three goals on 12 shots against Detroit on Dec. 21.
Reimer did see some action in relief of Jonathan Bernier during Saturday’s 7-1 loss to the Rangers, but will be in from the get-go tonight after Bernier struggled against the Isles on Tuesday.
Carolina hasn’t confirmed its starter yet, but Anton Khudobin seems likely to be in goal.
Hiller gets a rest
The Ducks will give red-hot Jonas Hiller the night off Thursday, allowing Frederik Andersen to get the nod against Nashville.
Andersen last played on Dec. 29 — allowing three goals on 23 shots in a loss to San Jose — but has been stellar this season overall, posting a 9-2-0 record with a 1.98 GAA and .927 save percentage.
Andersen will take on Marek Mazanec in the Preds goal.
Panthers at Sabres: Tim Thomas vs. Jhonas Enroth
Stars at Devils: Cory Schneider in for New Jersey. No word yet on a Dallas starter.
Capitals at Lightning: Philipp Grubauer vs. Anders Lindback
Blues at Flames: Jaroslav Halak vs. Karri Ramo
Wild at Coyotes: Niklas Backstrom vs. Mike Smith
Bruins at Kings: No confirmations yet. Jonathan Quick likely for Kings.
Red Wings at Sharks: Jimmy Howard in for Detroit. Antti Niemi likely for San Jose.