The Maple Leafs have not had a steady No.1 netminder who could play well consistently since Ed Belfour manned the pipes for the Original Six franchise.
That may change this season as the Leafs now have James Reimer slated to be the starting goaltender on a team that has not made the playoffs since 2004. The Leafs hope that will change with Reimer between the pipes.
After seeing inconsistent play and injuries from both Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson during the season last year, the Leafs called up Reimer, 23, from the Toronto Marlies, their AHL affiliate, to see what the youngster could do.
Reimer impressed both the organization and its fans as he played 37 games and put up impressive statistics for a rookie goaltender. Reimer went 20-10-5 with a 2.60 goals-against average, a .921 save percentage and three shutouts. In that time he led the Leafs on a late-season charge which saw them threaten for a playoff spot.
As a rookie, Reimer showed that he could bounce back after allowing a soft goal or playing poorly in a loss, which is important for any goaltender to be able to do. Reimer also showed that when given the opportunity to do so, he could be an extremely valuable player. His play really sparked the Leafs' turnaround in the second half last season.
With one season under his belt, Reimer will be expected to play the bulk of the games this season while being given the heavy burden of trying to get this franchise back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That is pretty high expectations for a second-year NHLer.
With that said, Reimer has the ability and the mental makeup to be a terrific NHL netminder -- one that could potentially get his Leafs back to where they belong in the spring: in the playoffs.
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