The Return of Optimus Reim

Coming into this season, James Reimer was thought to be the Leaf’s best chance at ending their post-season drought.  The fans had affectionately named him Optimus Reim, reasoning that his performance had ‘transformed’ the blue and white into a far better hockey club.  On top of that, he seems to have a natural and contagious sense of optimism about him – always smiling, and always positive.

That all changed when Brian Gionta leapt across Reimer’s crease and elbowed him in the head, causing him to suffer from whiplash-like symptoms for six-eight weeks.  The real damage though, was to Reimer’s confidence.  Having lost the reigns of the team to Jonas Gustavsson, and struggling to return to game-shape in the wake of what may or may not have been a concussion, Leaf fans began to get fed up with Reimer’s “aw gee shucks” demeanor and ability to brush aside losses.

The feeling amongst fans was that Brian Burke needed to go out and get a veteran goalie.   There was a point where even the most ardent Reimer supporter might have agreed with that assessment.  The team simply could not throw another season away because of young talent not meeting hoped for levels of achievement.  Compounding the whole issue was the play of J.S. Giguere in Colorado.  The 35-year-old who likely would have resigned in Toronto for a song, took over the starters role from Semyeon Varlamov and was putting up dominant numbers.  The Leafs seemingly could not catch a break with their goalies.

Sometimes though, it takes a team to overcome a problem, and not one player.  The Leafs are a perfect example of this.  Reimer, despite excellent even strength proficiency, could not help the Leafs to kill a penalty if his life depended on it.  The team finally hit rock bottom in Winnipeg on New Year’s Eve, when it seemed like every powerplay shot the Jets took found it’s way to the back of the net.  Reimer would fall back to his goal line – clearly a sign of having abysmal confidence – and just hope for pucks to hit him.

The team made a decision to go with Jonas Gustavsson after that, but the turn around really can’t be attributed solely to him.  The coaching staff and the players came together, and basically said ‘enough is enough’ in regards to the Leafs pathetic penalty kill.  Since then, the Leafs have not allowed a goal while short-handed.  They are the first team since the 72/73 Blackhawks to go an entire calendar month without giving up such a goal.  While Gustavsson was a part of that, and he deserves enormous credit for helping the team to finally exorcise that demon, this was a team effort.

When Reimer returned to the net this week, the responsibility of killing a penalty didn’t fall squarely on his shoulders.  While the old adage will probabaly always ring true – that your best penalty killer needs to be the goalie – the Leafs finally look like they have four guys out there in front of their goalie for the first time in years.

The result is that Reimer was allowed to have a shaky period without being absolutely shelled by the opposition.  Some bounces went his way, and his teammates helped him through the rest.  From that point on, Reimer’s confidence grew in the game against Pittsburgh.  Last night, the concussed, struggling James Reimer of December and early January was gone, and Optimus Reim returned.

The game of hockey is played between the ears, and it looks like Reimer has fixed whatever was going haywire there just a short time ago.  It’s safe to say, that Leaf fans should be feeling optimistic again.

Also, check Jonas Siegel’s blog about Reimer and the Leafs current stretch of strong play: Click Here
For further encouragement, check out this link displaying the Leafs statistical playoff chances: Click Here

And if you missed the return of Optimus Reim:

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, please take a moment to Read This Article About Brendan Burke

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214 Responses to The Return of Optimus Reim

  1. Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

    Hey, was there any news with Grabs agent being in town last week?? Anything get said?? Burke must know by now if he’s going to re-sign him or not (his agent must have given him a number and term to which Burke would know if he’s going to do it or not).

    • Just what his agent told the press. That it was in the best interest of his client to get a deal done with the Leafs. He then left it by saying something like “you’ll all see what happens soon enough”.

      I get the impression they’ll get a deal done. I know that won’t cure your paranoia on the subject though, lol

      • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

        LOL…not nessessarily paranoia (ok,,perhaps a bit). His value is sky high right now so even if Burke doesn’t want to pay the number…he should get decent value for him (though not not as much as a signed Grabo). I agree though, it does sound as though he wants to stay (completely different than Suter’s comments last week regarding Columbus). I imagine his wife would not want to be uprooted after just giving birth to their 2nd child either.

  2. Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

    Cam you are officially into MLHS status….we’ve flipped a page.

    • Awesome. Mind you, half the comments are mine, but I would be happy if a little commenting community grew here. I’d probably have to look into actually writing a better comment section though, and a bit better web design. I kinda like the simplicity of this though…

      • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

        Dude, it’s curing my hockey withdrawl. There was only so many times I could hit refresh on TSN earlier today before realizing nothing was changing on a Sunday afternoon. LOL..that sunday 2 weeks ago when everyone was logged onto MLHS fully expecting a trade to go down after we lost to the Habs the night before…was EPIC!!

  3. i have 0 concern grabbo will sign long term a leaf

    • 4evrblue says:

      I think he gets the same 4 year deal as Liles. Different cap hit mind you but the length will be equal. 4.2M Is my guess at cap hit.

  4. Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

    I used to lurk in the Leafs newsgroup on Usenet (at one time that was a VERY cool place to hang out). But with the slow death of Usenet over the last 5 years I found myself being redirected to HLHS…and lurked there for a year or 2 before jumping in with both feet. A bunch of folks came over from HockeyBuzz from what I gather…I’ve never been there myself. Usenet/newsgroups direct to MLHS (and now to here…LOL).

    • Yea, Hockey Buzz isn’t all idiots. I wouldn’t mind attracting some smart Leafs/Jets fans away from there. Eklund gets insane hits, I’m sure.

    • 4evrblue says:

      I never really talked hockey on the net but would log into the leafs forums on their website from time to time. Went back after one summer and nobody was posting so I asked where everybody was and received a link to MLHS, never looked back lol

      • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

        I remember the summer before Kabs was traded…a month before his trade window was to open up…and MLHS was pushing it to crack 500 posts. Now we crack 3000 from time to time. Hard to keep up sometimes. Blows my mind that all these people post during the day too (what..no one has a job or goes to school??) Crazy shit, Leafs Nation!!

        • 4evrblue says:

          lol I remember those days. 2-300 comments was a big thread. 1000 is a given now unless a new blog is posted quickly. I love being a seasonal worker so I can spend time on there during the day. If it wasn’t for that I would hardly be on there.

  5. Well, I’m off for the night. Thanks for checking out the blog everyone. Later.

  6. Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

    Take care, Cam….thx for providing the forum. See you at MLHS throughout the week.

  7. 4evrblue says:

    so did anybody make a “Brendan Burke Donation?”

    • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

      Honestly?? No. I don’t feel about it, either. I respect the cause and my deepest condolances to Brian and his family…but I want my MLHS.

      • 4evrblue says:

        I’m in the same boat. I wouldn’t feel right complaining about them suspending comments for a day because the cause is a good one but I didn’t make a donation.

        • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

          Not nessessarily complaining (well, ok, it would be complaining). Mainly frustration though as many people like to spend a sunday afternoon disecting the Leafs. I mean, yeah it sucks that Brendan died and I can understand perhaps an hour of silence (much more than the proverbial “moment” of silence)…but a whole day?? That’s a LOT of pent up demand, dude.

          • 4evrblue says:

            I thought the exact same thing. An hour might have made me actually think about the kid and the cause but instead all I could think was ‘where am I going to go to talk Leafs now?” lol

  8. Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

    OK it’s midnight…that’s 24 hours on the dot. I keep hitting refresh but all I see is Brendon’s face. Garrett and Alec and the boys should have had something teed up for us (they must have known there’d be people going through withdrawl). C’mon guys!! Open the flood gates!!

    • 4evrblue says:

      lol i’ve been doing the same thing. I expect they’ll have it open soon. Kinda curious as to where everybody went

      • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

        Oh, my guess is there will be many folks posting about their frustrations from being locked out for a day. I can see it coming…LOL

  9. 4evrblue says:

    So you think Kadri gets moved? I’m starting to think he will be a main piece if a big deal goes down.

    • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

      Would not be surprised to see Kadri and Schenn get moved for a big prize if it is in fact available. Otherwise, I’d prefer to keep both. Thing with Kadri is…he’s been bounced up and down so many times…hard to say what mgt’s true intentions are with him. Again, I think there may be a disconnect between him and Wilson (same as with Schenn…look at his minutes).

      • 4evrblue says:

        Wilson definitely seems to have it in for him. It would piss me off if I knew Wilson had anything to do with either of those guys getting traded if that does happen because I don’t expect him to be around much longer. The guy is old, he’ll retire soon so even if he leads this team to the cup those two guys should still have a longer career here than him.
        I’m not sure how much Burke likes Kadri and thats why I can see him moving him.

        • Anonymous says:

          Wilson doesn’t “have it in” for Schenn. IMO It’s more a case of your own inability to assess a situation. A lot of people criticize Schenn’s play all the time and yet he has exactly the same time per game as Franson, Komisarek and Aulie when he was here. Does wilson have it in for all of them. The other defensemen with more time have played better or fit the need better or partnered with another d-man more effectively. How about accepting that Schenn’s play hasn’t been up to snuff at times and his ice time has been adjusted accordingly, instead of making the kind of accusations none of us could possibly have a clue about.

          Burke liked Kadri enough to completely shut down Murray at the draft without even listening to what the offer might be. I don’t think he’s seen anything that would make him change his mind.

  10. Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

    LOL…Montreal must be looking at Grabovsky and kicking themselves in the derrier.

  11. Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

    Thing is with Wilson…assuming we make the playoffs and he is retained into next season (I think his extension currently sits at one year to bring him to the end of next season). How much rope does he get into next season before he is deemed to be fired or re-extended??

    • 4evrblue says:

      Gotta think a bad start would be the end of him. Can’t say I would be upset either. I’ve seen a lot of bone headed moves from him.

      • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

        Yeah, my point being that we will have to suck to get rid of him….which SUCKS because we actually have a decent team now and are only getting better. I’m not sure I want to ride the upswing with Ron Wilson (but on the other side of that coin I don’t want to have to suck in order to get rid of him). Double edged sword. I dunno, perhaps I’m just too buzzed and over thinking it.

  12. 4evrblue says:

    comments are open I think

  13. Bon Scott was a Leaf fan says:

    Right on, dude…