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Reimer stalls, then fumbles; Bernier calmly pick up the ball…and where the Leafs fit in the East.

If you have visited VLM in recent years (heck, in recent days) you will know that one of the Leafs I sort of have a personal rooting interest in James Reimer. I won’t go through the list of attributes that I like about the guy, so I’ll simply say I think he represents the Leafs well and has been a pretty darn good goalie many nights on teams that often weren’t terribly good the themselves.

We all know the sequence of events of this past summer, and how Reimer—without a single game being played—went from being the obvious ‘number-one’ in goal after almost leading the club to an upset of the Bruins in last spring's playoffs to, at best, staring at a future where he would share the net with newcomer Jonathan Bernier.  We can debate whether that move affected Reimer’s confidence heading into training camp but if it did, the cracks did not show right away as Reimer played very well right through the opening night of the season against the Habs.

However on Saturday night, at home against a team he usually excels against, Reimer was not his stellar self.  You could just feel he was fighting things a bit.  He seemed more uncertain than usual, flailing around at times.  He seemed a second slow which, for a goaltender, leads to lousy results.  When he provided Jason Spezza with a long rebound goal (off a shot that did not require such a juicy rebound), whiffing on Spezza’s rather ordinary attempt on goal, Carlyle pulled the plug.

In came Bernier, who provided the same affect (with the Leafs down 4-2 at that point) as if Carlyle had replaced Reimer by boarding up the entire length and width of the net.  As Ottawa’s scoring opportunities came, you began to sense the Sens knew the momentum had shifted, as Bernier calmly caught or kicked out any challenging forays and effortlessly covered up all the loose pucks in his area. 

The Leafs responded by catching the Senators 4-4 in regulation, then winning the shoot-out.  Bernier did not allow a single tally along the way.

It’s early, and all goalies go through peaks and values.  Confidence can be a fragile thing.  When a goalie is hot, they feel like an impenetrable mountain in goal.  When the are struggling, every shot is an anxious adventure.

It would be difficult to imagine Bernier won’t go through his own trials in this market, maybe sooner than it looks right now.  But while Reimer had done absolutely nothing to deserve to lose his crease, his first stumble has allowed Bernier the opportunity the first-year Leaf was no doubt ready to pounce on.

As I have said from the get-go, I’m not necessarily comfortable with how this “situation” (which everyone seems to love so much) will end up for Reimer or the Leafs.  But for now, yes, it is good to have two capable goalies who have the qualities of a top-flight netminder.  And at the moment, it’s advantage, Bernier.


I know some Leaf fans continue (and hey, it’s their right) to comment on how the Leafs made a big mistake in letting MacArthur andGrabovski go this past summer.  But right now, for me at least, it’s hard to look at this roster and not feel as though this is simply a much better team than we have seen in these parts in some time. (For the record: VLM readers know I had long developed a soft spot for Grabovski, while I was middle of the road on MacArthur...)

When I posted my 1-10 “heading into the season” rankings of the Leafs a week ago, the one area I was cautious about was the blueline.  Depth on defense?  This club has lots of NHL-caliber guys, for sure, but quality may be another matter.  Oh, they’re good enough to win against ordinary opposition.  I’m just not as comfortable that the “top-six” on defense is ready to help us beat the best in the NHL just now.  I may be proven quite wrong and that would be fine. (Now, if we're talking potential, or where our defense will be two or three years from now, my view may well be different. Gardiner, Rielly, Percy, Finn, Granberg, etc. along with any returning members of the current defense corps may make this a very strong unit overall...)

My point however is that overall we are simply a stronger squad, given the aforementioned goaltending duo along with more toughness and firepower than we’ve had in ages.  Clarkson has not even played yet, but we have traded the long-ballyhooed Colborne, for example, and no one even cares, it seems.  Why?  Because other youngsters like Carter Ashton are chomping at the bit.  Kulemin is injured?  Ashton is sent upstairs for a game? It’s next man up, so young Abbott was in the lineup for Carlyle Saturday night. (A surprise call-up to me, by the way.) On paper he may not seem like a “Carlyle player” but there he was, creating a scoring chance for himself at one point (though he was a minus 2 on the night in a handful of minutes).

Players who have been acquired along the way—Kessel, Lupul, Franson, Phaneuf, van Riemsdyk, Bolland and now Bernier—have all become (or soon will be) cornerstone Leafs.  I’m not suggesting they’ll go 82 and 0: I'm simply saying that for the flaws that are still in evidence at times, this is seemingly a confident bunch that can outscore and out-grind the opposition most nights.

While Carlyle is a demanding guy (and clearly not popular with all his former players—see comments from MacArthus in various newspaper articles over the last couple of days; Grabbo had done his talking earlier) the Leafs hardly present like a team that plays anxious hockey or is afraid to make a mistake.  Gardiner seems to join the rush at will.  At one point Saturday night, van Riemsdyk tried a move that you would usually see only in a practice when guys are fooling around.  It reminded me of the shoot-out attempt by a Leaf (was it Ranger?) late in the pre-season, when the player kicked the back of his stick against the puck as a kind of trick-play shot on goal.  Carlyle got as big a kick out of that as anyone on the Leaf bench.

I’m not suggesting the coach is one of the boys, but while he pushes and demands and they know who’s boss, most of the time, the players seem to respond.

This is not to gloss over the mistakes we all see and it’s certainly too soon in the season to make bold forecasts, but these are points in the standings they won’t have to give back later in the season if things temporarily go south.  Clarkson is not even playing yet and for all the concerns that some of us have expressed about what he will cost the franchise financially in the years ahead, for now, he should help make the blue and white even stronger.

I’ve said for years that the Eastern Conference is wide open.  Of course every year is a new season with roster changes, etc. but I don’t see this year being significantly different.  Who are the unbeatable teams in the East?

Pittsburgh, Detroit and Boston should all still be very good, but for me, the answer is no one is unbeatable.  I said that about Boston in the quarter-finals last spring and I still feel that way.  The Leafs were seconds away from taking them out. The Leafs are even better now.  Are the Bruins?

Exactly where the Leafs fit in the “elite” mix, I don't know at this point.  But they fit.


  1. Michael, great post. I can see why Nonis made the trade for Bernier though. He really gives the team confidence with his positioning and lack of rebounds. I'm sure Reimer will come back and have a great next game though.

    I wonder if all these stats nerds are pulling their hair out with the 3-0 start. I sure prefer Raymond and Bolland who have essentially replaced McArthur and Grabo. I would put both out there at the end of a game with a one goal lead any time.

    I have to totally agree with you about the D. Ranger looks shaky out there especially. I hope it is just getting used to the speed of the game again, and I think it may be some nerves too.

    1. It's certainly interesting when the stats don't add up when you look at the "win" column, Greg. The Leafs have struggled at times in these first few games yet have managed to win, which is the old bottom line, of course.

      Clearly Carlyle wants to see his club get the kinks out, but I believe it's a good sign when a team can play poorly at times and still win. Thanks for visiting and taking the time to post, Greg.

  2. I also felt Reimer looked quite uncomfortable through much of his time in the crease last night. Despite his discomfort, the 'battle' was still there (even if unlucky and, at times, ineffective, to be frank). I hope the whole situation has not become 'too much' for such a fine young man. He seems to be 'crouching' much lower than when he's playing a more confident game. Perhaps this 'pull from the net' will give him the chance to get back to basics and realize the fear of 'losing the net' has already been realized, so he doesn't have to worry about it anymore! It was great to see him cheering on Bernier after he went in... what a fine show of character!

    I feel that both MacArthur and Grabovski will excel in the regular season, however, I believe we have the makings of a club that can 'navigate' the regular season and potentially thrive in the playoffs. Each of the aforementioned can be effective in roles tailored to their strengths, neither is as well rounded as the replacements... in fact, Bolland is quickly growing on me!

    The defensive side of the team needs to be 'shored up' over the coming weeks, though I'm glad to see Ranger (and even, Rielly last night) being given the chance to get their feet wet, despite some gaffs in the early going. Ranger seems like a hard man to play against around his own net and has some unusual (but dare I say, potentially effective) methods for breaking out of the D-zone. I think when the rest of the guys realize what he can do, he will appear to be more solid. Glad to see he's finding his game... with some work left to be done.

    Leading into the shootout, Orr and Bolland (I think) sure found some enjoyable moments with Carlyle as the 3 were laughing with some vigour... seems like the 'hard guy' is still able to find common ground (that may have been lacking with Mac and Grabo- perhaps the 'mix' is better, even if some exceptional talent areas are not so evident.

    1. Like last year, we probably do indeed want to see a number of defensemen get a chance to play for the big club during the regular season so they are fully ready for the playoffs if called upon. I like a lot of what I'm seeing though we can all notice errors here and there along the blue line.

      Reimer wasn't himself. Who knows why? The die is cast and he surely knows it, for all the reasons we have discussed him since the trade was announced. No excuse, however; he had played quite well until last night. And he should be fine. He's hardly alone in struggling at times. Bernier will likely have his own issues at some point this season.

      Like you, I see a different side to Carlyle. I noticed it last year. Clearly there are players who do not have a relationship with him (Grabovski and MacArthur have both said as much publicly) but it sure seems as though he connect with a lot of the guys. Thanks InTimeFor62.

  3. Carlyle has emphasized, both after the Sens game and the Flyers game, that Bernier smothers the rebounds. I think here we see Reimer's big problem from the coaches' point of view - he makes a save, but gives up rebounds that become another chance or find their way into the net. And he does have a tendency to give up a soft goal. I'm sure Bernier will have his good games and bad games throughout the year, but it's hard not to notice his calm demeanour and puck control. He also positions himself well, while Reims seems to do a fair bit of flopping and flailing. Like you and many others, I like Reimer's character - and I think he's a great team player. I also think he was victimized by shaky D on Saturday. But it certainly seemed as if the team calmed down when Bernier came in.
    As for our perceived depth on D - I'm giving Ranger a qualified mulligan while he gets up to speed. He just about won the game for us on Saturday, and I'm seeing flashes of top 4-dom in his play. Rielly is certainly promising too. But Fraser is a big loss for us - I hope we'll be able to weather his absence, because we really don't have much else to draw on besides the guys already there.
    As for the team feeling different - well, you can't quantify spirit. That's why the pure stats guys will never be able to accurately and consistently predict a championship. I've felt since the pre-season started that this year's team feels different. There's an increased competitiveness and will to win. Whether it's from Bolland, or Clarkson, or the coaches or last year's achievements I can't say - probably a combination of all of them. But it feels as if we're on the verge of attaining some significant success. As we often say - let's check back at the 20 game mark!

    1. Bernier does seem to possess the traits you cite, Gerund O'- including rebound control and a nice dose of self-confidence. If both guys can play as they are capable, that would be encouraging, for sure.

      Some Leaf followers are not Fraser people. While he is "limited", yes, he brings a lot to the table- the ability to hit, make simple plays and character, which matters, too.

      And I fully agree with your last paragraph. This just is a different team. And "stats" alone will never reveal the full picture. Thanks Gerund.

  4. As much as we've discussed right here about the goaltending dynamics we have, I admittedly was stricken with a queasy feeling when Reimer was pulled. I absolutely think he needed to be pulled at that moment, two big rebounds that led to quick goals, and the last one was simply soft. I guess it just worried me that the organization was looking for that "aha" moment to hand it all over to Bernier. But maybe it's all an overreaction. We will see moving forward. For right now, they have a huge luxury in two starting-caliber goalies, and it showed itself when Bernier was able to come in and stop the bleeding so that the Leafs could re-group and steal a victory.

    I am a little disappointed in the sour grapes by Grabovski and MacArthur. It just doesn't feel very professional in the NHL. Is Carlyle a hard person to get along with, and not a people person? Probably yes, but I would guess most NHL coaches either are that way or at least put that facade on for their players. Major league coaches rarely have a long shelf life because the reality is eventually the players grow weary of them. But for the next few years at least, I expect those who continue to survive and show up in a Leafs uniform will play within the system they are in. I don't put a whole lot of stock in the opinions of those who are no longer there. They may very well flourish elsewhere, as Grabovski is already demonstrating. But that is why players are traded and left to sign elsewhere. Sometimes they aren't a true fit. It's nothing personal.

    I've read a lot of columns this past week decrying the poor defensive play by the Leafs thus far in spite of their record. Call me the eternal optimist, but I've always believed that good teams find ways to win in spite of adversity and mistakes. The defense will shake off the rust just like every other team in the league, and all things being equal, when other offenses are hitting their stride, Ranger and Franson will be back in mid-season form too.

    The Leafs have rounded into the team we all wished for a few years ago. Remember when everyone wanted them to be a tough opponent to play against? Remember when it was said that they had probably only one top-six forward in the entire lineup? The roster has evolved and taken shape. The Leafs have a great mix of speed and toughness now. I wasn't so much a believer when they drew the Bruins in the playoffs last year but they proved something then. I don't believe any of the top Eastern Conference teams would want to face them in the playoffs this year.

    1. All your posts here are thoughtful and (to me) on the money, Pete, but this one may be especially so. I won't reiterate all your central points, but suffice to say I was nodding along throughout. Thanks Pete.

  5. Goaltending has evolved over the years. Back when Leafs were winning cups you could expect to see Hall, Sawchuck, Worsley, Plante, and Bower play almost every game. There were no back-ups dressed. With increased scheduling and travel, as well as players who think nothing of crashing the net and leveling the goalie, it is imperative to have two capable goalies. A team that relies entirely on one goalie (usually with an aging veteran with eroding skills as back-up) is one concussion or pulled groin away from disaster. We only have to look at the 2111-12 season where Reimer's injury put an end to play-off hopes.

    If one of our goalies is injured now we have a viable option. Bernier could easily have been injured Saturday when the goal was pushed on top of him and his mask was knocked off. I had a sickening feeling of deja vu for a brief moment. We are fortunate to have two very good goalies and one game good or bad is not going to determine anything. I am pulling for both of them. If they both give the Leafs quality goaltending then the season should be a resounding success.

    I liked both Grabovski and MacArthur and will root for them to have good seasons, however it is a lesson in futility to compare them to new Leaf players just as it was purposeless to compare Kessel and Seguin. It is important that a coach be given players who fit his system and I commend Nonis for being on the same page with Carlyle. The results so far seem to indicate that the personell decisions have been good ones.

    I see the defense as a work in progress. I think it will be sorted out over time. I'm hoping that Ranger is able to settle in and that Rielly is returned to junior when Fraser gets back. I would mention that P.J. Brennan had a great start with the Marlies and is a viable option for a call-up.

    In watching the Leafs this year, one thing has really struck me. They are an extremely confident group, even when they are behind. I had the feeling that they would come back in the Ottawa game. I wouldn't have felt that way in previous years.

    Note: I wonder if we would see the reckless net crashing if the goals were solidly anchored. I cannot remember anyone seriously injured by hitting the goal pipes in the old days simply because players were not stupid enough to barge headlong into the immoveable goal.

    1. Excellent post, Pete Cam, as always. My goaltending concerns have more to do with both goalies being young, the same age, and wanting the same space. Long-term I'm not sure how that will work but yes, for now, it's a positive.

      Our defense is very much a work in progress, and it's far more important that they be primed and cohesive in April than now. Fraser is a valuable bottom-pair, stay-at-home guy, for sure.

      And I'm with you when it comes to the confidence this team displays. They have a lot of belief, it seems. That comes from trusting your teammates, knowing there is the ability - and will - to fight back when needed (and I don't necessarily mean with fists...). They can initiate, too. I think Carlyle deserves some of the credit for that sense of belief.

      Interesting thought on the goalposts. I guess there are pros and cons. They went to these nets for safety reasons but as you note, they create their own issues. Thanks Pete.

  6. There is no doubt that you either buy into the coach's plan and execute said plan or you are not included in said plan. Benched, scratched, sent to the AHL, traded away, or left to walk at end of year. Grabbo, Mac, Kadri, Gardner, Liles, Kom,++ ...... Accountability.
    Grabbo kicks Randy as he leaves the building. Mac kicks him also. Grabbo lost his job to Kadri last year. He seemed also not to embrace a 3rd line checker role. Mac went from 2nd line producer,3rd line,4th line, scratched. Am I surprised he took swings at Randy. nope. I would have been more surprised if he would have gave Randy credit like Bobby Ryan did.By the way, Mac is no Bobby Ryan. Who cares what the Macs of this team says. Of course that works easily when we make the playoffs,come within 10min of beatin da Bruins, and starting 3-0. Pesrsonally I like our identity. Tough to play against, quick transition game, potent offence, improved pk. I would like to think the coach has something to do with it. Kessel doesn't seem to mind him. If kessel wins the Selke I will name my next dog Carlyle lol. If coaching was a problem, Clarkson, Kule, Maclaren, Fraser all out. Thats top six,pp,pk all depleted. We still found a way to win. Kudos to the coach.

    Reimer sure did look flip floppy. If reimer had a glove hand, he might have looked a little Mike Palmateerish. Three games, twice now Randy has brought up Berniers rebound control. Reimer take warning. I like our goalie situation. AT the moment , advantage Bernier. I am more concerned when Reimer gets hurt again, odds say he will. Then what to do with him. Not when he is still a commodity.

    I see Boston as the clear team to beat in our Atlantic Div. I don't see Detroit as a 2nd place team in our division. I believe they will still have problems scoring. For all the number crunchers,puck possesion stats,they had the puck but couldn't put the biscuit in the basket. Leafs outscored them last year, and will again this year. Ottawa is the dark horse,they were beat up last year.
    So Atlantic
    1- Boston
    2- Toronto
    3- Ottawa
    4- Detroit, Montreal
    I like the direction that this organization is heading. They are executing a plan on and off the ice. Marlies are 2-0 also. There seems to be a buzz in the air. Its just nice to see a light at the end of the leafs tunnel for a change. :)

    1. Thanks for the no-nonsense, from the heart post, tans66. I see where you're coming from. The sports world is full of unhappy former players who hate the coach. And hey, that's fair. Sometimes the coach is a problem. Sometimes it's the player not delivering what is asked of him. Sometimes it's a little of both. (If nothing else, angry comments from former players add a little colour, eh...)

      Fair comments re Reimer. We'll see if there is more "analysis" of Bernier's "weaknesses" when he plays enough for those to be apparent.

      And I, too, think the Leafs are in the mix in the East. I liked seeing your breakdown. Let's revisit in a few weeks/months!

  7. I'm gald to see our team off to a 3-0 start. We all are. But we shouldn't go around calling the Leafs "elite" just yet. Don't get me wrong, when the game starts I believe wer're going to win. Every time. Last year I's say the Hawks, Pens and maybe two more teams were elite. I believe we're getting there, maybe sooner than we think, but not yet.

    As for Reimer, I agree with the assessments, like InTimeFor62 I have stated here before that James sometimes crouches way too much. The wkole point of butterfly goaltending is to make one bigger. At times he does exactly the opposite. All we see is a mask and pads. He will bounce back of course like always. I also like the goalie situation for now (untill someone starts sulking in the corner of the dressing room).

    The Grabbo buyout I still don't like. Wouldn't we be better with him? I don't know if the team is better this year or not. Different for sure, I see us with less skill (Grabbo and Frattin) but with more guts (Bolland and Clarkson). I guess we'll just have to watch to find out what we really have.

    1. I appreciate your candour, portuguese leaf. I can fully appreciate why some Leaf supporters would be hesitant to stamp this team as "elite" already. I get that. And I'm usually one to be very, very cautious about emphatic pronouncements of the team turning the corner.

      I will say, as I mentioned in my post, things feel different this season. Now, it's not the first time I have felt that way in recent years, but I just believe we are further along the character and "hard to play against" curve. And we still have some skill.

      If the goaltending is as good as we hope it is/will be, who knows what the ceiling is in the East? We'll soon find out! Thanks portuguese leaf.

  8. Yes Michael I agree, we need more games to get a true picture of our goal tandem.
    I think Nonis deserves a little credit also for our current situation. Bolland, Raymond, Bernier all aquired during the offseason and so far have all contributed to our victories. Clarkson has yet to add his brand of hockey yet. Signing Kadri, Kessel, Franson, Fraser, Ranger should also be commended. Even Bodie is making Nonis look good. .Not going to argue the dollars and terms, just the roster.Tho other then Clarkson, the others it could be argued are a bargain.
    Far too early to plan a parade, but I do like the feel of it.
    Interesting year in that so many rfa and ufa's, Nonis's work is fluid and ongoing. Be interesting to see what our defence looks like this time next year.
    Great site,great posters. Thanks for allowing me to put in my 2cents worth.Hmmm with age and inflation maybe a loonies worth now :)

    1. There is a natural tendency in Leafland to seek out negatives, and many think Nonis has put himself up against a cap wall, but I tend to be with you, Tans66. I think the guy 'gets' it, and we are seeing it with an evolving and generally improved and much deeper roster.

      Thank you for the kind comments about VLM. I'm very appreciative of the people who post here in such a thoughtful, knowledgeable and respectful manner. It's a great way, in my view at least, to talk hockey and bat ideas around.

  9. Enjoyed The Hangout this morning!
    More than anything I wanted Reimer to have a strong game on Saturday. I agree that he seemed to be fighting the puck more than in preseason/ Montreal but I think his play was more a reflection of how the team played as a whole. They've not been very sharp in the first half of the games so far and Bernier benefited from their improved play in the second half. The one goal on Bernier in Philly was the result of four players standing in front doing nothing but screening shots for the other team. Reimer saw a lot more of that. Franson's game was certainly off and that may be because he was partnered with Rielly. When the team traded away Ben Scrivens James lost not only his close friend but his greatest supporter and replaced him with a rival who is very determined to take his place. This happened twice to Carey Price at a much younger age and I don't think it was best for him.
    I'm not crazy about the situation but Reimer is a strong competitor. I believe the healthiest competition for a goalie happens on the ice not in the dressingroom. I worry about the amount of ice time each goalie gets. James is used to a lot, in fact I think he needs it, whereas Bernier can handle sitting and waiting for his chance and still be sharp.

    As far as Carlyle goes, do any players actually LIKE their coach? I think Carlyle can be a bit stubborn about things. Lupul fought with him about playing on his off side for sure, but Randy also readily admits his mistakes. I don't know how long we'll have Randy but I think he was a good choice to move this young team to the next level. We saw no improvement, nor would have, under Wilson. We had no chance of moving forward without penalty killing and it's stellar now. I'm a little confused why that hasn't translated into better play without the puck in our own end and I expect that's first on the list to improve. We've never had any problem scoring and this year we are seeing a better result with our powerplay. I believe Randy is very methodical, concentrating on each problem and fixing it before he moves on to the next. Grabbo was unhappy with reason but he didn't work as well on the 1st line with Kessel and there was a need to give Kadri a chance. At least he got to play all be it 3rd line. More powerplay opportunity would have been better. The same with MacArthur, who I actually really like- scratched or not enough ice time for a good player.

    Yes, Phaneuf was voted over-rated by players. I'm not sure WHO over-rated him. Certainly not Leaf fans who have never really appreciated the minutes he plays nor can forgive mental errors that occur when he is exhausted at the end of a shift. Is he ever Not on the ice? No wonder he takes penalties. It's the longest rest he'll get during the game. I expect this vote is more a dig at Leaf Nation than Phaneuf. I find the whole thing childish myself. I'm surprised players even participate.

    On the whole, I believe we have a team that finds a way to win games we probably shouldn't have won. Chicago did that all last year to keep their unbeaten streak going. While I won't compare the Leafs with the Hawks, this is what good teams do. Win the third period.
    Thanks, Michael. C.N.

  10. Michael, I'll just add that trade rumours started last week involving Gardiner, possibly Kulemin are ongoing to start this week. C.N.

  11. Just a side note, I see some posters are noticing Ranger, good and bad. Ranger is playing top 4 minutes now. Averaging just over 20min a game. Leads Dman with a +2. No points.
    He will "improve" on that .He wanted to play here. A million bucks. Raymond and him will be the best deals bar none.

  12. I thoroughly enjoyed your post, C.N. and believe it touched on a number of key points.

    On the goalie "competition", yes it's best for the team, perhaps, but as you point out with Price, it is sometimes not best for the player involved. Sure, guys have to compete for playing time and all that and have to be mentally tough, but if you know you will be pulled if you give up a bad goal or have a bad game and may not see the net for a long while, it's not easy. Goalies are different, obviously. It's one thing to get bumped from the second line to the third line temporarily. It's quite another to know you may be on the bench, full stop.

    Coaches are there to do a job, not be popular. Usually, "player" coaches end up getting fired (as do hard-asses), only to be replaced, like hard-asses, with precisely the opposite type of coach. That's the never-ending cycle in sports. That former Leafs don't like Carlyle runs consistent with many "ex"-athletes through many decades.

    Fair point on Phaneuf. The guy does, in fairness, log huge minutes and is the defenseman Carlyle always taps on the shoulder, as Wilson did before him. (And I think you're right- the "over-rated" thing is probably more a shot at Leaf fans and how we over-rate our players all too often...)

    Great stuff, thanks C.N.

  13. I think the Ottawa game showed why the Leafs traded for Bernier, he is a much more talented goal tender than Reimer. Reimer is a real feel good story about the little guy beating the odds and becoming the hero, and he was for a short time. The problem is he can't control his rebounds, and his glove is suspect, his future is going to be more of the same, his talent level is such that he is not going to get any better than he is now. Nothing wrong with that, he is what he is, a nice kid with a limited amount of talent, Bernier on the other hand has the talent to be a top goaltender in the NHL in a year or so, he will be right up there with Rask. The Leafs D will be much better with Bernier in net because he stays on his feet, and controls his rebounds, it can't be easy playing D in front of Reimer when he flops around like a seal and has rebounds going all over the place.

    I think the Leafs should finish in the top 3 of the Atlantic Division if they stay healthy, I am not sold on Detroit being a lock for the top 3, they where moving towards a rebuild last year until they squeaked into the playoffs and beat a very weak Ducks team. No one is going to convince me that a 40 year old and an oft injured second line centre is all they need to be a power house again.

    1. Thanks for chiming in, mrj. I probably look at our goalies a bit differently. For me, Reimer is more than a "nice story". I don't buy that he has no glove hand and constantly gives up rebounds. Sure, he has issues in these areas, like all goalies, when his game is a bit off.

      Right now, Bernier can do little wrong in the minds of many Leaf supporters, and that's fair. I will just say that all will not be rosy forever. I don't believe that he Kings would have traded a guy they thought was going to be great for a middlish return, cap or no cap, knowing that Quick could be injured tomorrow. I know, however, that others feel very differently.

      Bernier is a talented goalie. But so is Reimer. Different styles, different goalies. I interviewed someone last night (a goalie coach) who said he believes Reimer has a higher ceiling. We all have different opinions.

      I'll hold off on Bernier as the "answer' until I see him when the burden is totally on him- in the playoffs, as it was on Reimer this past spring against Boston. Only then will we know if he is as cool as he looks now when things are going well. Lots of guys look good when there is no pressure.

    2. No pressure? In Toronto there is always pressure>

    3. Agreed, mrj- but the playoffs will be a very different type of pressure- something Reimer has already been through here. I'm sure Bernier will play well; I'm just cautioning against early assumptions that he is better, based on limited play in LA and an overall small sample size.

  14. Reimer a higher ceiling then Bernier . Very small sample for either . I would be interested in knowing why he would think so. The goalie coach, did he mention Reimers weaknesses, if he did , there was no glove hand mentioned. He must of missed the memo , seems the other 29 coaches did, and the memo said...shoot high glove side . ;) Will forward email and video lol. Rebound control, if my coach kept mentioning my partners great rebound control,how pucks stick to him, 2 out of 3 games, I might want to at least consider my rebound control.
    I believe in Reimers ability , just not so much in is health.
    Wait til Bernier has a bad game, he will. Its a nice position to be in to have both.

  15. Hi Michael,

    I guess my feeling about all of the questions you've posed is the same: too soon to tell.

    Regarding Reimer v Bernier I have mixed feelings. On the one hand (as I've posted before) I don't ascribe to the notion that the Leafs "owe" Reimer anything and I can see that they may have felt Bernier was simply too good an asset to not pick up once they knew he was being shopped. On the other hand, I'm disappointed in how they seemed to betray muddled priorities in spending assets on what didn't appear to be a weakness of ours and I think the whole thing about Reimer's glovehand is, at best, old news and at worst a complete media construct (or "narrative" in the trendy parlance).

    As for 3-0, there's an old rugby saying (which, I'm sure, is common across other sports as well) that professional teams win the dirty games. In other words, if you can play trashy for 59 minutes but your 60th earns you a tie (and a subsequent shootout win) then you're going to do a lot better than the teams who turn turtle and move on to the next game by the end of the second period. We've played three mediocre games and won them all: that's the spirit.

    On a different note, I'd like to have a quick rant about folk who are perpetuating this asinine division between "Stats Nerds" and "Go with your gut" commentators, both professional and amateur. Both sides of this imaginary divide are tending to talk in hyperbole as if this is some new Cold War. Rubbish. Statistical evaluation of performance is vital and insightful. It will also never supply more than correlation, never causation. It will always need people who know what they are talking abut to sanity-check the numbers, just as cro-magnon loud mouths need facts-based appraisals to rein them in when their perceptions become biased by the last big thing they saw. Both sides are acting childishly in my opinion, I hope the day soon comes when people realise that the divide isn't ideological, it is merely two different types of important information.


    1. What a great post, KiwiLeaf. Your last paragraph should be cast in bronze to stand out for all to see. Thanks.

  16. Hey Michael,

    been wanting to post a reply since opening night but have managed to not find any time.

    Wow talk about on the pedestal and off it - Reiminister of Defense has lost his seat at the crease already in game 3 to Bernier (the Great Wall of Bernier - what do u think?)

    Game 1: Reimer plays a very typical reamer game - and the leafs come back and win. And a special thank you to Bozak (for scoring the shorty).

    Game 2: Bernier keeps them in with all the penalties and stone legs/hands phase - until they come back and win. Although u can't deny that the penalty killers like jay and kuli helped him out also.

    Game 3: Reimer has his game going early - makes a good glove save (high glove was his weakness right). The defense is playing average/mediocre and the top two lines defensively are nightmarish. And then those bad 15 secs - Bernier comes in and rightfully gets the credit of getting a star on the night - cause the leafs were defensively playing like they wanted to end the night down 6-2.

    A note about the bernier/reimer crease questions and reimer's game 3 performance - If people think watching Reimer play that one bad game makes him nothing but a back-up to bernier - they should watch the highlights from the la kings games against the jets and rangers - quick had a very similar game to Reimer in the one against the jets - ben scrivens made all his saves in relief but the kings couldn't tie it - rather the comeback falls short after an empty net goal by the jets. Does that make scrivens the number 1 in LA after quick has had all those goals score on him with him giving up highlight reel bad gaffe goals or swimming/scrambling in his crease goals or huge rebounds right in the slot goals.

    3 GAMES are not enough - I personally think the visual of bernier in net potrays calmness and that is what is driving part of this love for him by the coach and the fans.

    Fans shouldn't forget who got them to the promised land and his skills and fight - give the guy a chance - not a game and a half.

    Another thing: Gardiner trade rumours - how legit do u think they r Michael/how likely is that trade this season - I would hate to lose a player and asset like that just yet - if ever.

    Anon from Scarborough

    1. Good to hear from you, Scarborough Anon.

      Like you, I'm far from prepared to write Reimer off. it's a long season, obviously. I've seen too many goalies over the past many years look like Terry Sawchuk in his prime- for a while. But few can make it last. I believe both these guys can play- just not sure they will both be happy and at their best in this one-against-the-other environment.

      I have some thoughts on Gardiner, but I'll save those for another post. I don't think he's going anywhere- right now. Thanks Scarborough Anon.