Life has become very interesting for goaltender James Reimer and the San Jose Sharks.
Reimer’s season has alternated nosedives and brilliant highs like an air show on a hot summer day. With the Toronto Maple Leafs, he struggled in October, excelled from November to January, then tanked in February. Toronto traded him Feb. 27 just as his value cratered. In San Jose he was merely expected to spell first-year starter Martin Jones, whose workload has never been higher. Reimer, a pending unrestricted free agent, had a chance to rescue his value, but it didn’t appear at the time he’d have any chance to pursue starter’s money on the open market. At best, he was looking at another battery situation and a deal similar to his expiring one, a two-year pact paying him an average of $2.3 million annually.
But, sheesh, plenty has happened since the trade. He failed to impress in his debut March 8, allowing three goals on 25 shots, but he apparently doused himself in kerosene and rolled in a bonfire after that. Reimer has won six of his past seven outings, posting a .945 save percentage and three shutouts. He’s allowed just 10 goals over that stretch.
Reimer has quietly started three of San Jose’s past four games. He’s played so well that he’s stirred talk of a goaltending controversy, and that’s especially impressive considering Jones hasn’t played poorly at all. Jones has a .924 SP since the all-star break and has an SP of .914 or better in all but one month in 2015-16. Part of the reason Reimer is playing so much of late is the Sharks have openly expressed their desire to rest Jones, who has already started 63 games. But it was fascinating to hear coach Peter DeBoer talk about “needing both guys” in the playoffs after Reimer’s shutout Tuesday night. DeBoer was similarly non-committal talking to Sharks reporter Kevin Kurz a couple weeks earlier. Are these the things a coach says if he’s set on one starter?
With the regular season winding down, the San Jose Sharks find themselves back in the playoff field after an uncharacteristic miss last year. The Sharks are guaranteed to play one of their California rivals in the first round, though whether the Kings or Ducks draw in remains to be seen. Either will be a tough match-up for a San Jose squad that has struggled to get anywhere in the playoffs for years now. But good teams have to beat good teams en route to glory, so there will be no excuses.
But there also doesn’t seem to be much anxiety in San Jose right now, even with the daunting task in front of the squad. A lot of the credit goes to first-year coach Peter DeBoer, who has instilled a new vibe around the team.
If the Anaheim Ducks were a baseball team, they would have all been wearing swimming goggles and drowning each other in beer and champagne. Thankfully, though, hockey teams exhibit a little more restraint upon learning they’ve clinched a playoff spot.
The Ducks officially punched their ticket to the post-season Thursday night, but you’d have never known it by the by the mood in their dressing room after their 6-5 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was an eerily empty and quiet place, with captain Ryan Getzlaf left to explain how a very big team that fancies itself a legitimate Stanley Cup contender can lose two games to a couple of Eastern Conference bottom feeders and give up 10 goals in the process.
Brent Burns is getting a ton of buzz this season and rightfully so – the burly and bearded defenseman is putting up a Norris-caliber campaign for the Sharks, a team that has bounced back from a rare non-playoff year nicely. But Burns will be the first to tell you he’s not doing it alone in San Jose – his new blueline partner has been a boon, too.
James Reimer has only taken the net twice for the Sharks since being dealt to San Jose ahead of the trade deadline, and he’s looked like a fish out of water with his plain white mask in both appearances. That won’t be the case for start No. 3, though.
Reimer, 27, unveiled his new lid Saturday, and it’s a spin off of his popular “Optimus Reim” masks. The Transformer theme is still there, but Reimer has gone with a more intense design, one that uses the full mask design to appear as though Reimer has the head of a shark. Think the memorable Brian Hayward goalie mask but with a mechanical twist and you have Reimer’s new lid. Check it out: Read more
With how tight the Pacific Division race is right now, Monday night in Calgary was an incredibly important game for San Jose. And in a game the Sharks should very well have lost — a contest in which they were outshot 48-23 — Martin Jones made 47 saves and helped San Jose take home a big two points.
With the victory, San Jose sits five points back of the Ducks with 17 games remaining in their season and continue to keep pace as best they can with the division’s powerhouse squads in Anaheim and Los Angeles. Incredibly, San Jose has a shot, one few would have expected them to have, at taking the top seed in the Pacific.
That they kept pace Monday is in no small part thanks to Jones’ performance. In turning his first-star worthy game, though, one can’t help but wonder where this Sharks team would have been this season if not for its trust in Jones? Read more
You may have noticed the Ducks, who got off to an awfully slow start, have been one of the league’s best teams over the past few months. Anaheim has won each of their past 10 games, over which time the Ducks have outscored opponents 38-19, have their power play clicking at over 40 percent and steady goaltending from the duo of John Gibson and Frederik Andersen.
And you may have also noticed the Kings sit tied alongside those same Ducks for first place in the Pacific Division. Los Angeles has stumbled over the past several weeks, but they’re still playing the smothering, suffocating brand of hockey that has made them a threat to pick up their third Stanley Cup in five seasons.
What’s flown largely under the radar, though, is that the Ducks and Kings aren’t the only team truly vying for the Pacific Division title. While the San Jose Sharks may seem like the division’s sure-to-be third seed, their play over the past two months speaks to a team that’s as much in contention for the top spot in Pacific as their Californian counterparts. A big part of that has been the outstanding play of Joe Thornton. Read more
James Riemer is headed to San Jose.
The veteran goaltender was acquired by the Sharks from the Maple Leafs along with Jeremy Morin in exchange for Alex Stalock, Ben Smith and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft.
The fourth round pick would become a third round pick, if the Sharks make it to the Stanley Cup final.