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Monday March 14, 2011 11:38 pm

James Reimer’s Leafs making late postseason push




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, NHL, Playoffs,

James ReimerThe Toronto Maple Leafs are in the best position they’ve seen in years, and they’re still not in a playoff spot. They currently hold the 10th-seed in the Eastern Conference and realistically, are only chasing the Sabres, Rangers and Hurricanes. Maybe it’s because the Leafs haven’t won a Stanley Cup since 1967, or maybe it’s because the team hasn’t even made the playoffs since before the lockout, but fans in Toronto have been going nuts (more than usual) after every win lately. After Monday night’s loss, the Leafs are six back of the eight spot.

The good news is that throughout the first half of the season, the Leafs were an afterthought (or possibly an “after laugh”) when talking about the playoffs. But rookie goaltender James Reimer (nicknamed “Optimus Reim” by fans) has taken the reigns away from oft-injured Jonas Gustavsson and the declining J.S. Giguere as the number one goalie in Toronto, and he’s made believing in the unbelievable team a reality.

The bad news is the goaltenders for the three teams ahead of the Leafs. Cam Ward of the ‘Canes won the Stanley Cup in 2006, Henrik Lundqvist with New York captured an Olympic gold medal with Sweden at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and Ryan Miller in Buffalo won the Vezina Trophy last season. That’s a lot of success between the pipes that Reimer doesn’t have in his 26 games of NHL experience.

Even if the Leafs win eight of their last 12 games, they’ll be hard-pressed to overcome two of the three teams ahead of them, especially considering the goaltending those three teams have. None of them will be able to put it into cruise control down the stretch, which means it will be that much more difficult for the Leafs, who are basically made up of one hot goaltender, one top-six forward and a bunch of guys playing above their heads right now. It would be nice to see hockey’s most polarizing team make the postseason, but even just six points back, that’s still a pretty long shot.

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