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(FRED THORNHILL)
(FRED THORNHILL)

Is James Reimer the real deal? Add to ...

But these are areas of the position that all rookie goalies need to work on.

The last thing I would say he needs to work on, without getting too technical, is knowing when to challenge shooters and be more aggressive, and when it is okay to stay deep in his net. Reading plays and having situational awareness is something that comes with experience, so I don't expect him to excel at this so soon. Over time, he'll get better at all of these things.

Is this run Reimer is on anomaly or can he actually keep this up long term?

I consider this run a "hot streak" right now for a few different reasons, but it's something that he can still sustain. For one, he's extremely confident right now. That's always the biggest key to a rookie's success. Secondly, shooters and teams are not familiar with him, so they simply don't know any of his tendencies.

Again, this happens with all rookies. In fact, one reason why goalies experience a "sophomore slump" is simply due to scouts and players doing their homework. Teams quickly learn a goalie's strengths and weaknesses and it can take a goalie anywhere from months to years to solve their issues.

So not only is Reimer a relatively unknown talent, but he's playing with an extremely high level of confidence. That confidence has also radiated outward through the entire team, pushing the Leafs to play much better in front of him, which is something I'm sure many fans are seeing. With the playoffs now in sight, hope and energy is high and every game is really intense. So there's no complacency to be found, the positive energy is flowing everywhere, the players are relaxed and everyone is having fun.

When Reimer stepped up and experienced early success, the coaching staff rewarded him with more minutes. As Reimer's role elevated, so did his confidence. He started to believe he was capable of being successful and his outlook changed. His goals went from, "just trying to stick in the NHL" to "continuing to play well enough to make the playoffs." As his mindset and goals have changed so has his confidence.

If this strong play continues, his rhythm and focus will reach what could be considered a point of no return. He'll be established as a full-time NHL goaltender and he'll gain more experience and confidence. From there, the key will be proving he can be consistent and less about proving he has the skills to be successful in the NHL.

In that regard, he is setting the bar very high for future seasons and that is where staying confident becomes such a huge aspect of long-term success. Just ask Craig Anderson how tough it can be to live up to really high expectations (2009-10 season compared to this year).

If teams are video scouting him for ways to beat Reimer, what are they telling their shooters?

  1. Shoot glove side, because Reimer sets his hands very low on his hips and tight to his body. His hands aren't the quickest, so a good release and well-placed shot will beat him glove side.
  2. Always try to shoot pucks into his feet on the rush and from bad angles because he doesn't have the quickest feet either.
  3. He also isn't strong at scrambling or making quick reflex saves since he's a "blocking" style goalie that relies more on positioning.
  4. Always try to elevate pucks in tight because he likes to stay deep in his crease and rely on a wide stance to eliminate space. You'll also see a lot of space above his shoulders because he hunches over in his ready stance, so get shots up in a hurry and you'll be more successful.

Does Reimer remind you of anyone else?

To be honest, he really doesn't. If anything, he reminds me of J-S Giguere because of the clearly-defined "blocking" positional style that they both play. As I've said before, I'm sure Francois Allaire is loving the opportunity to work with Reimer because there are very few "blocking" goalies around anymore.

I can't think of any current NHL goalie that plays a full-blown "blocking" style and stays deep in his crease on purpose in order to have more time to react. If I had to drop some names just for fun, I would say he's a combination of Giguere, Antti Niemi and Cam Ward ... and maybe a little Henrik Lundqvist since they both have a wider stance and play deep in their crease.

But Reimer is really unique, and to me, that's a good thing.

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