BUFFALO, N.Y. – James Reimer has a cool nickname – Optimus Reim – a viral video featuring his name set to the melody of the song “Friday” and a cult following in Toronto.
It’s well-deserved. Reimer proved against the Caps why the Maple Leafs see him as the goalie of the present and the future, making 39 saves and almost stealing two points. As Washington defenseman John Erskine said, “He was stopping everything.”
“He’s obviously pretty good,” Bruce Boudreau said Tuesday night. “I mean, taking nothing away from the way the Leafs have played in the last month-and-a-half, but he was a big difference-maker, I thought, today. We had some really 10-bell chances, and he rose to the task. I think the Leafs have got a good goalie there.”
Tuesday’s first-star performance was evidence.
“He was obviously very good – three or four unbelievable saves,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “He gave us every chance in the world to get a point, if not two.”
Reimer’s .923 save percentage could stand as the best in franchise history for a single season. He unseated former Stanley Cup-winner Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson to earn the No. 1 spot.
Against the Caps, he just made their lives difficult. Mike Knuble said the talk during the second intermission was how he and his teammates were dominating but that it was a matter of time until they broke through.
“They were able to hold us off, but we were doing a lot of good things,” Knuble said. “We were doing the right things; we were eliminating their chances and generating ours.”
Reimer still stood up – and it took some big stops from Michal Neuvirth (and just Knuble’s second career shootout goal) to get the Caps two points. That shouldn’t be a surprise though; the Caps like what they have in their 23-year-old goalie, too.