The Maple Leafs picked up a 5-1 win over the Avalanche last night behind 34 saves by James Reimer. That continues a November hot streak by the goalie, one that has him firmly within the top ten in league-wide save percentage and earned him a selection as the league’s third star last week.
Reimer’s revival has been a welcome site for Maple Leaf fans. It’s also a confusing one, at least for those who’d spent the last two years convincing themselves that he was a bum. Things change fast in Toronto, especially for the guys in the crease.
Let’s remember that backstory here. Reimer was an unheralded quasi-prospect when he arrived in Toronto midway through the 2010-11 season, all smiles and “aw shucks” demeanor. It was supposed to be a cup of coffee, but he played well, and had earned the starter’s job by the end of the following season. He looked great during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, even earning a Hart vote. At long last, the Leafs had found their goalie.
And then came That Game, and everything changed. The Leafs’ third period collapse against the Bruins sent the entire franchise into panic mode and quashed the reputations of more than a few of its players, Reimer included. Suddenly, he was the guy who couldn’t win the big one, a deer-in-the-headlights with shaky rebound control. It wasn’t remotely fair – the only reason the Leafs were in a position to collapse in game seven was that Reimer had single-handedly dragged them there. But it didn’t matter. In the eyes of Toronto, Reimer was damaged goods.