It was another homecoming for Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer Saturday night as the team was in Winnipeg to take on the Jets.
For the fourth time in his career the 26-year-was given the chance to shine in front of family and friends, but unfortunately like the many times that preceded Saturday’s tilt, the native of Morweena, MB was unimpressive and once again left the MTS Centre with his head hanging low.
The Leafs came in to Winnipeg after losing less than 24 hours earlier 3-1 at the hands of the Minnesota Wild 3-1, in a game where they, uncharacteristically, outshot the Wild. The Leafs hit the ice and immediately looked to be feeling the fatigue of what was the team’s fifth game in the last seven days. This meant for Reimer, he would face 40 shots for the second straight game.
Reimer This Season
The Leafs fourth round pick in 2006, gave up five goals on those 40 shots on route to a 5-1 blowout. With the loss Reimer now drops to 6-7-0 on the season with his save percentage dropping to just a sliver over the .900 mark at .902 and his goals against average climbing to 3.50. He has given up 17 goals in his last four contests, all of which he lost. During that span he has had just one game in which his save percentage was over .900, which came during the team’s 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Reimer made 38 saves on 41 shots in the loss; good enough for a 0.927 save percentage.
Stage Fright Versus Home Team
The numbers don’t fare well for Reimer, but what is even more concerning is his career statistics against his hometown team. He has faced the Jets now on seven occasions dropping five of those games, his only wins coming back in 2011 and 2013. Last season the Leaf netminder laced them up for two games against Winnipeg going 0-1-0 in those games posting a forgettable .867 save percentage and a dismal 5.65 goals against average. In all Reimer has given up 27 goals over the seven games while posting a .879 save percentage and a 3.95 goals against average against the Jets.
The Maple Leafs have lost seven of the 10 games between the two teams since they made their move back to Winnipeg. During that time Reimer has lost three of the four games he has faced the team in Winnipeg and two of the three in which he’s played the team back at the Air Canada Centre. And though the inconsistent goaltender has had his collection of shaky performances against the Jets, the fact is he never seemed to do very well against the team even when they were still playing in Atlanta.
Even the Thrashers Gave Him Trouble
Before the team was reincarnated back in Winnipeg, the Thrashers also got the best of Reimer on most occasions, collecting wins in two of the three games against him putting 12 pucks past the tender.
The Maple Leafs are seeing one of their biggest slumps of the season having now lost seven of their last nine games, and though Reimer
isn’t the sole reason for the teams blunders of late, as starter Jonathan Bernier has also lost three of the five games during the slump, Reimer is in the midst of one of his statistically worst seasons.
A Season to Forget
The 6-foot-2 208 pounder’s 3.50 goals against average are the highest in his five seasons in the NHL, never being higher than 3.29, his total from last season. Meanwhile his .902 save percentage is just slightly better than his .900 mark that he posted during the 2011-12 season.
The team has not enjoyed its recent time away from the Air Canada Centre due to the World Junior Championships being co-hosted in Toronto. The team has gone 2-5-0 during the seven game road trip and will now return to play their next two at home starting Wednesday versus the Capitals. However, the team will then embark on another four-game trip out west, but luckily for Reimer and the Leafs there are no planned stops in Winnipeg.
Craig is an intern at The Hockey News where he has written for both the website and the magazine. He is also a featured-blogger at http://www.hockeyforums.net/index.php/blog/46-its-a-canadian-game/. Craig has an Honours in Journalism from Wilfird Laurier University and is currently completing the Sports Journalism Program at Centennial College. Follow him on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman.