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Reimer or Scrivens: going down the stretch, who’s your man?

I’ll keep it simple today (not that we ever get too complicated around here…). As the Leafs face their most crucial stretch of the 2012-’13 season—and maybe the most important series of games they have played since the spring of 2004—who needs to be in goal to give this team their best chance to win and advance to the playoffs?

It’s your call today.  For the sake of expediency and focused discussion, let’s look at this as though we have three basic options (well, we, as fans, have zero options; Carlyle holds all the trump cards in this debate) and those are:

Option 1) Assuming that the Leafs will/should pick one guy to run with and choose one of Scrivens and Reimer—and you feel Reimer is the guy who needs to hold down the fort down the stretch.

Option 2) Same as “Option 1” but for you, Scrivens is the goalie we take to the bank.

Option 3) You want the Leafs to do what Carlyle has done through much of this season—go with the goalie with the “hot hand” or at least is winning games, until that guy loses one or doesn't play well...

Those of you who follow VLM a fair bit will know I’m a Reimer guy.  Yes, I see all the flaws but I also like his fight-back ability and his overall make-up.  I believe he is our best shot at success.  I’d like him to be in our net at playoff time.  I believe he can and will make some big stops for us.

So yes, I’d like there to be a clear delineation: that is, that he’s “number one” and while Scrivens will get his games through the rest of the season, Reimer to me, should be “the guy”.  If we lose, we lose.  It’s not the end of the world, as much as I do believe, as I’ve stated here, that there are lots of reasons why it’s important that we at least advance to the playoffs this spring.

I don’t dislike Scrivens.  Not at all.  I just feel that, based on what I see and what I believe is the best way to go for the team, that he is best suited at this point to being a back-up at the NHL level.  For me, he’s not a “number one” or even a “1A”.  He’s a nice back-up—someone who can win some games for us.

(A historical note:  both these young goalies are still early enough in their career that we can rightly say they still have "potential".  Maybe they can co-exist down the road and share the net.  The Leafs tried that approach with two talented young goaltenders, Ken Wregget and Allan Bester, back in the '80s but it didn't really work for either guy - or the team.  Back when I was a kid, in the mid-'60s, two Hall-of-Famers actually shared the Leaf net for the first time during the 1964-'645 NHL season (and did so for three full seasons).  Terry Sawchuk had been picked up from the Red Wings, and he played 36 games during the then 70-game schedule in '64-'65, while incumbent Johnny Bower played 34 Leaf games.  That season, they led the league in goals-against.  In those days, the goalie that led in that statistical category won the prestigious "Vezina" Trophy.  It had always gone to just one goalie (whoever played the most games for the team that led the league in goals against).  But Sawchuk (seen above right in 1950s action with the Red Wings), who narrowly played the majority of the games that season, refused to accept the trophy unless Bower had his name on it, too.  That was a tremendous gesture on the part of the former Detroit great.  The success of the Leafs' legendary duo also spawned the modern-day "two-goalie" system.)

So I’ve said it:  Reimer should be the guy.  Is that fair to Scrivens?  I don't know.  But at some point you have to make decisions.  Just like Carlyle finally decided to go with Holzer (temporarily?) instead of Kostka. Just like Gardiner is stuck in the minors.  Just like Brown and Steckel got the short straw and were traded away—despite being hard working, dedicated Maple Leafs in their time here.

Tough decisions are always “part of the game” and I think it’s time to make it clear Reimer is number one.  I’m not saying Carlyle has to “say” it publicly (that could end up being like a lot like NFL coaches who declare who their “starting “ quarterback is amid much fanfare and then two games later, poor performance or an injury dictate another course of action…).  There’s no urgency to make a loud declaration.  But I do think Reimer needs to get the majority of the starts at this point.

Let’s see what we have.  I want to make the playoffs.  Now is the time.  It’s still very much there for us.  Yes, the Leafs have lost four in a row, but they competed well in Boston, came back against the Penguins to steal a point when Malkin was still in Pittsburgh's lineup last weekend and were full measure for their lead against Pittsburgh this past Thursday at the ACC.  To me, they are playing no worse now while losing than they were when they were winning games before.  It’s a question of outcome, not always lesser performance, in my eyes. (It's just like I often say about Kessel.  He plays much the same every night.  Some nights the puck goes in.  When it does, we say he played well.  When it doesn't, we tend to say he's in a "slump"...)

I won’t go through all the flaws in the other rosters (I have a hard enough time keeping up with the issues on our roster), but c’mon, the East is clearly not made up of great teams.  80% of them are pretty darn mediocre. They all run hot and cold, and two teams that would normally be a shoe-in to make the spring dance—the Flyers and Rangers—have their own issues, including, at least for the moment, behind the bench, it would seem.

But I’d like to hear from you.  Do you have a preference in goal?  That’s my key question of the day.  (I’m not suggesting a trade for a goaltender is or should be on the table, but go with that if you honestly feel that’s still the best “option” out there for the Leafs).

Let’s talk.


  1. I'm with you... Option 1 (Reimer as the prime guy) but given his 2 weeks off with the knee, I'd suggest we don't give him more than 60-70% of the games, but should rely on him if the playoffs are in the mix.

    I like Scrivens, too, and felt that he played a sound game against the Penguins (even though the result was a punch in the gut - I thought Scrivs was on his game), ultimately, though, I feel he still needs a little more NHL seasoning before we could expect extended consistent stretches from him. A game or two, here and there to keep him sharp (or when back to backs are upon us) would be appropriate.

    I look at the goal where the pass went cross crease behind Reimer after his first save and attempt to clear the wonky puck into the corner to his left. What struck me was his never-say-die attitude when he spun all the way around and pre-positioned his extended stick for a desparate attempt to stop the puck with his paddle.

    If that had been successful, we would have seen it on highlight reels for years to come! As it stands, people focus on the bouncing puck and his failure to clear it successfully. I focus on the his attempted Hasek-like ugly manouever instead - glad to see him willing to try anything there!

    He's not all the way back from the knee injury and I'm sure he's adjusting to the brace, so will give him a few more to get into a groove, but I think he's 'the guy'...

    And I agree... there's no need to make some public declaration.

    To Randy: Your choices will speak louder than words AND if you find yourself having to make a change, nobody will question your honour (at least not credibly) as if you went back on your word!

    1. It seems appropriate to provide a link to the website (bio) of James Reimer where you can also learn about the orphanage they are building in the name and memory of Ramona (the wife of his cousin Earl who died of cancer). The site has some signed articles and provides the ability to purchase his facemasks painted by his designer to match the ones James has worn. They are pretty pricey HOWEVER the proceeds go to the orphanage project... seems like a reasonable place to pick up a jersey during his post lockout sale. At least the proceeds go somewhere important!


      You can find the link to the store for purchases at the top of either page.

  2. We're of one mind on this one, it would appear, InTimeFor62. I'd be fine if either guy led the Leafs to the playoffs, but for me, it feels like Reimer....

  3. It is really nice for the first time in a long time that we have this dilemma.

    I have always been a little skeptical of Reimer, I feel his weaknesses(slow glove) have always been easily exposed by the better players in the league. But I was wrong! This year he has shown that he can be the goalie we saw 10-11.

    With that said, I think he has only shown his brilliance because he had a enough time to recover from his neck/head/concussion (cant remember which one). I would take Reimer into the playoffs, and I would probably give him the chance to redeem himself in front of his family in Winnepeg. But I would look to Scrivens more in the next couple weeks, maybe play him against Tampa and Boston next week, and Boston and Carolina the week after. Let Reimer work out his kinks, and get back to form so we dont drain him in the playoffs.

    Boy, do I miss the Bester days...


  4. I can see what you're saying about not pushing Reimer too much before the playoffs, Anon (Bester27). InTimeFor62 had much the same thought above.

    An aside on your reference to Allan Bester: I don't know if you'd be interested, but we did an interview with Allan a few weeks ago for the "Leaf Matters" podcast. Very engaging guy. He shared some really interesting perspectives on his days with the Leafs and also the new Leaf goalie coach...

  5. I guess it's up to me to go against the grain. Option 3. I like both our guys, and don't think one is cleary better or playing better than the other. I like Scrivens' athleticism, agressievness and think he's mentally stronger than Reimer. However I feel Reimer has better fundamentals and is calmer in the net.

    Maybe what I just wrote makes no sense to anyone else, but when I watch the games, those are the feelings I get.

    As for why we're not winning now, maybee it comes down to luck. We're playing about the same as we were when we were winning, except now the other team isn't hitting 3 posts a game and our goals aren't bouncing in like they were before.

    Wregget /Bester. Yeah. Remeber them well. Good memories for me as a kid at the gardens with my dad watching them aginst the likes of Stevie Y. The Red Wings coming back next year is great also. Norris Division rivals together again.

  6. All fair observations, portuguese leaf.

    I think the current streak is indeed as much about "luck" as anything else. The leafs won games that they maybe didn't deserve to win; now they've lost some that could have gone the other way. That's hockey.

    Thanks for posting!

  7. MIchael,

    I need to go with whoever Carlyle thinks has the hot hand at the time. Neither has been stellar recently, and they are both trending towards average in the league. The team needs to win games, or this season turns out exactly like last year. The games are getting tougher, can the Leafs play tough hockey. We will find out very shortly.

  8. Winning trumps everything at this point, Jim, yes. I think Reimer will ultimately be the guy if we are going to get to the playoffs, but we'll see. Looks like Scrivens tonight.

    Tough games, indeed. Leafs aren't as "good" as their record showed perhaps, and not as "bad" as their record is lately.