If there’s one thing living in Toronto has taught me it’s how brutal the Toronto media can be. All it takes is one person to say something and all the news stations pick it up and it’s a full blown rumour. That’s when someone will probably started the rumour in their moms basement somewhere. With all the speculation that the Toronto Maple Leafs were taking to acquire a veteran goaltender for the playoffs, James Reimer has taken a lot of criticism. Most of that criticism has been unfair as he’s played great this season and kept the Leafs in many games they didn’t deserve to be in.
Now that the playoffs have rolled around and the Leafs have broken their drought, there’s a tension in the air as if people are just waiting for James Reimer to fall on his face and fail. Just let the guy play, no need to rip him apart every single game or after every shot. A goalies job is to stop the puck and give his team a chance to win and Reimer has been doing that.
The two most unfair criticisms of Reimer are that opponents always go upstairs because he has a weak glove hand and his rebound control.
We’ll start with the first one, that opponents always go upstairs. In today’s NHL era goaltenders are big and tall. You look around the league Ryan Miller, Craig Anderson, Tuukka Rask and James Reimer are all 6 foot 2. With goalies being so tall and relying on the butterfly style, when goalies are down in the butterfly their legs are so long that they take up the whole bottom half of the net. There is nothing for shooters to shoot at so they are forced to shoot high. It happens to every goalie, not just Reimer.
Watch any NHL game, especially during the playoffs, you’ll see players aiming for the top shelf almost every shot. Unless it’s a garbage goal in front of the net, goals aren’t being scored along the ice anymore. So stop criticizing Reimer’s weak glove hand and saying that’s the reason the Boston Bruins are going high on him. Every team does it on every goalie.
Next Reimer’s rebound control. Here’s the thing, every goalie doesn’t matter if it’s Martin Brodeur or Ilya Bryzgalov is going to cough up rebounds. Yes a goalie needs to be able to cover up pucks off the initial shot, but they’re not perfect some pucks are going to pop out. That’s why the defence is there to help clear rebounds.
Being a goalie myself I know that there are certain area’s on pads that will automatically kick a rebound out. There are perfectly placed shots that automatically force a rebound and there’s nothing a goalie can do about it. Every goalie let’s out rebounds and smart players shoot for a rebound, it’s not the end of the world when Reimer let’s out a rebound.
Has Reimer been fantastic throughout the first round? No. He hasn’t stolen any games, but he’s looking more and more confident as the series goes on. He’s still young and developing and this is his very first time in the NHL playoffs. He’s stopping pucks and giving his team a chance to win, let’s not rip him apart for things that happen to every NHL goalie.