Tuesday, March 15, 2011

What happened to James Reimer?

A couple of weeks ago I posted about how many goalies have spectacular numbers when they are first called up to the NHL only to drop off shortly after. I speculated that it will likely happen to James Reimer. It appears that this is the case based on the numbers below. His stats looked real good in January and February but have tailed off considerably in March.

January 4-3-0, 2.31 GAA, .932 SV%
February 6-1-3, 2.36 GAA, .926 SV%
March 3-3-1, 3.67 GAA, .892 SV%

So why does this happen? In most cases it’s quite simple; it takes a certain amount of time for the shooters to figure out a new goalie. Is he weak on the blocker side? Does he over commit? Is he too far back in the crease? How is he in handling the puck outside the goal crease? The same process takes place in major league baseball. A young pitcher comes to the majors for the first time and seems to be unhittable. But after a month everyone starts hitting him. We are all predictable and your opponents start to figure you out. So to compensate you need to adjust to your opponent’s adjustments and so on and so on. For instance I noticed Lightning shooters were going high on Reimer. Maybe they noticed something while reviewing game tapes?

Although in Reimer’s case there are additional factors in play. He has played in 14 straight games so when his coach suggests he looked tired, he may be right. He wasn’t even playing this much on the Marlies. Another reason for his drop off in March has to do with the Leaf defense. At the trading deadline Brian Burke shipped out two pretty good defensemen who were both playing over 20 minute per game. Those minutes are being eaten up by the remaining defensemen with mixed results. As a result, in many games this month the Leafs are being outshot. Weak defense means more turnovers, more shots against, more scoring chances for opponents and more goals against. Burke will need to address what to do about Brett Lebda and Mike Komisarek over the summer.

So which is Reimer – the January/February stud or the very ordinary March goalie? We will need to wait until next season to find out for sure.

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