The Numbers Reveal The Truth About James Reimer
With his team currently marred in a four game losing streak and his personal success in the proverbial toilet, fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to come to terms with the fact that hoisting any sort of trophy is out of the question for quite some time.
Well, Leaf fans, we cannot put all the blame on James Reimer, but he certainly needs to share the load of “poop” that is being hurled at the team right now.
Phil Kessel’s frustration last night said it all— he, like millions of fans, is just plain fed up with the countless mistakes (of which Kessel is guilty too) that happen night-in, night-out.
Basic plays, seemingly simple for midget players to execute are being misplayed. Giveaways continue to be a major issue. Defensive coverage is little more than a rumor and giving up 35+ shots a night is now the norm rather than the exception.
While every player on the Maple Leafs roster has a measure of blame on their shoulders for Toronto’s recent slide in the standings, the growing belief is that Reimer is the weakest link in the chain.
So, are the fans of the Blue and White correct, or are they simply unfairly spewing their venom on Reimer?
Let’s take a look at some of the numbers…
But first, let’s get one thing off of our chest, shall we? If Reimer is going sulk because his coach said he was “just OK”, he is not mentally tough enough to play in the NHL. Facts are facts and Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle is correct, the kid has been “OK”, and that may, in fact, be flattering on more nights than not— stay tuned for those numbers!
Yes, Reimer is a nice kid, yes, Reimer makes some big saves and, like Maple Leafs number one netminder Jonathan Bernier, Reimer is subjected to playing behind a group of players that is very mistake prone and seems to care less about defense on more nights than not.
Bottom line, Reimer now has four lousy wins in his past 18 games. FOUR wins. This is unacceptable.
Last night against the Montreal Canadiens, with a playoff birth all but on the line, Reimer played horribly and was guilty of giving up at least two bad goals. In fact, since Bernier went down, Reimer has been less than adequate between the pipes— so much for taking the ball and running with it when Reimer got his chance. Thus far, Reimer’s performance while Bernier has been on the mend has been nothing short of an EPIC FAIL.
Let’s face it, despite all the protests from the fans of the man they call “Optimus Reim”, Reimer’s play suggests that Carlyle got it right when he chose Bernier over Reimer as his number one netminder. Sure, there were rumblings that the Maple Leafs organization somehow owed Reimer something for last years “success” (which ended in an epic collapse in game seven of the first round playoffs against the Boston Bruins), but the way I see it, we live in the now, not in the past and, with the exception of a few bad games, Bernier has simply played better than Reimer all season long. Go ahead, argue Reimer has been better…yeah, thought so!
Simply put, the numbers do not lie.
Reimer’s bloated goals against average of 3.32 (ranked 44th in the NHL) and paltry save percentage of 0.910 (ranked 31st in the NHL), combined with his considerable shortcomings (poor rebound control, questionable positioning, inability to play the puck, weak glove hand and mental mistakes) have hurt the Maple Leafs this season, especially down the stretch (Reimer has lost six of his past seven games).
Through 31 games played, Reimer has given up four or more goals on nine occasions this season. He has exited games with a save percentage below .900 on 13 occasions and on four occasions he has had a save percentage under 0.800! Yep, below 0.800!!!
So, when did it all go wrong for Reimer? Here is a look at some of his statistics month-over-month:
Reimer’s Save percentage in October: 1.99. November: 3.03. December: 3:38. January: 4.68…4.68??? That’s not a save percentage, that is change from a pizza!
Noticing a trend here? Reimer is getting worse, not better.
Now, I am all for giving credit when credit is due. When Reimer is on, he is on. Reimer has a 1.83 GAA in games he wins. That said, when he is off, he is really off. In games he loses Reimer has a 4.48 GAA…4.48?!? Really?!?
Care to guess how many netminders own a GAA over 4.00 in the NHL these days? Ten— most of which have only played a game or two. It is almost impossible to own a GAA over 4.00 in today’s NHL. Again, When Reimer is off he is really off!
Good netminders find a way to put up decent numbers, even when the team in front of them is questionable. Ryan Miller did it in Buffalo, Thomas Griess is getting it done in Phoenix, etc.
Despite his team being devastated by key injuries all season long, Former Maple Leaf netminder Jonas Gustavsson (now a backup with the Detroit Red Wings) owns a 15-4-3 record, 0.912 save percentage and a 2.55 GAA. Has Gustavsson not endured a tough road in Detroit? Why has he not completely collapsed?
Fact is, when it comes to back up netminders that are succeeding this season, the list is long. As some experts have said, this is “the year of the backup”, that is, except where Reimer is concerned.
Don’t believe me?
A quick look at all 30 NHL Teams’ goaltending duo’s (starters and backups) reveals that, despite all of the support Reimer is getting from his stubborn fans, the kid simply does not measure up the other backups.
Of the NHL’s 30 teams, 25 of them employ backups that have very similar or BETTER numbers (winning percentage, save percentage and GAA) compared to the number one goaltenders numbers.
Reimer has one of the biggest gaps in numbers (GAA and SV%) compared to the number one guy (Bernier) than any other netminder in the NHL. What’s up with that?
So, what does this tell us? Reimer is sub-par in his role as a backup…never mind being the Maple Leafs number one netminder. Simply put, the numbers suggest he is not good enough, end of story.
Let’s face it, Reimer, much like many of his teammates, has had a bad year all the way around, the stats simply do not lie. This is not an attack on Reimer, rather a presentation of facts via considerable research and numbers which, time after time, revealed he has been nothing short of inadequate for much of the 2013-14 season.
Need some examples?
In Montreal Peter Budaj has a 2.50 GAA, Carey Price has a 2.40 GAA— pretty even, right? In Los Angeles, Jonathan Quick has a 0.917 SV%, 2.01 GAA, Martin Jones has a 0.932 SV%, 1.90 GAA— wow! The backup has even better numbers! In Detroit Jimmy Howard owns a 17-16 record (0.913 SV%, 2.64 GAA), Jonas Gustavsson owns a 15-4-3 record (0.912 SV%, 2.55 GAA)— again, the backup has excellent numbers! In Boston Tuukka Rask owns a 2.07 GAA and a 0.929 SV%, Chad Johnson owns a 2.04 GAA and a 0.925 SV%— the backup has a better GAA than one of the best netminders on the planet!
While each market is different, all of these examples reveal that most NHL teams are getting consist netminding, night-in, night-out from both their starter and backup goaltenders. So, where is the consistency from Reimer??? Why is the gap so large between him and Bernier?
Not a big enough sample, you want more numbers?
In Ottawa: Robin Lehner owns a 0.906 SV% and a 3.30 GAA, Craig Anderson owns a 0.908 SV% and a 3.10 GAA (no real gap). New York Islanders: Evgeni Nabokov— 0.898 SV%, 2.96 GAA, Kevin Poulin— 0.891, 3.29 (not a huge gap) In Pittsburgh: Marc-Andre Fleury— 0.915 SV%, 2.39 GAA, Zatkoff— 0.915 SV%, 2.55 GAA (no real gap). In St. Louis: Brian Elliot— .917, 2.05, Ryan Miller: 0.916 SV%, 2.03 GAA (no real gap). Nashville: Carter Hutton— 0.905, 2.74, Marek Mazanec—902, 2.80 (no real gap)…the list goes on and on.
Try as Reimer fans might, there is no excuse for the substantial difference between Jonathan Bernier and James Reimers’ numbers which currently sit at: Jonathan Bernier— 0.925, 2.61, James Reimer— .910, 3.32.
Both netminders play behind the same team, albeit a team that has given up more shots than any other in the NHL this season. Every backup plays behind the same team that the starter does. Just like Quick and Jones do in L.A., or Elliot and Miller do in St. Louis, or Fleury and Zatkoff do in Pittsburgh, or Howard and Gustavvson do in Detroit.
In each and every case I have mentioned every team gets a consistent effort form their netminders. Simply put, Toronto does not and it has cost them valuable games this season.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to talent and execution. Somewhere along the way, Reimer has lost a step. Look around the NHL, it is indeed the year of the backup— but Reimer never got the memo!
For those of you that say “yeah, but Reimer plays for a bad team, it is his teams’ fault”…To some extent you are correct. But how do you explain the consistency of The Ottawa Senators netminders? The Nashville Predators netminders? The Carolina Hurricanes netminders? The Detroit Red Wings’ netminders? All of these teams have been inconsistent all season long, yet their goaltending duo’s post similar numbers.
The fact remains, consistent teams and inconsistent teams alike, for the most part they are both getting similar numbers or BETTER from their backups. The numbers are there for all to see, there is just no denying it!
Heck, there are even examples where some NHL backups are putting up better numbers (SV% and/or GAA) than the number one netminder in town.
Anton Khudobin in Carolina, Chad Johnson in Boston, Jonas Gustavsson in Detroit, Martin Jones in L.A., Alex Stalock in San Jose, Philipp Grubauer in Washington, Al Montoya in Winnipeg, Josh Harding and Darcy Kuemper in Minnesota— all of these netminders are putting up exceptional numbers despite playing behind some of the best netminders in the NHL!
How do you explain all the success backups are having while Reimer consistently falls short? I’ll ask again, why is there such a gap between what Jonathan Bernier’s numbers are and what James Reimer’s numbers are? No excuses, the fact is, despite his best efforts, Reimer is not “bringing it” every night.
It is true Reimer fans— NHL backups are getting it done in most NHL markets! Reimer is not…get over it, move on and accept the fact that Reimer (insert all the excuses you want) is having a bad year.