|Reimer making one of his 49 saves tonight en route to|
his second consecutive shut out
James Reimer had a spectacular game tonight as he recorded 49 saves for his second shut out in as many games. In his last two starts he has stopped all of the 74 shots against and likely has taken back his position as starting goaltender for the Maple Leafs. The Leafs picked up an easy 5-0 Victory over the Ottawa Senators, who have really fallen off the map lately. Phil Kessel and Tyler Bozak each picked up a goal and two assists, while the back end pitched in for the other three goals. Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn, and Cody Franson all scored as well tonight.
The 5-0 win for the Maple Leafs caps off their fourth win since losing to Montreal two weeks ago. The Leafs only loss was in overtime on Tuesday after a late game collapse versus the Penguins. So they have 9 of a possible 10 points in their last five games. The 5-0 loss is terrible news for the Sens, it extends their losing streak to 6 games. They have recorded just one point of a possible 12 in their last six games. Ottawa does have a 3 point cushion on the 9th place Washington Capitals, but the Capitals have four games at hand. If the Sens don't change things soon, they could find themselves on the wrong side of a playoff race rather quickly.
Reimer struggled earlier this season after returning from an neck injury, or as the doc calls it "not a concussion", and found himself on the bench for a good chunk of last month. He was given his an opportunity to take back his crease in two important games to close out this week. One against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night, and again tonight when the Leafs squared off with the Senators. He was perfect in both games and with the two victories the Leafs has jumped up to 60 points, eight games above .500. For the Leafs to finish with 93 points on the season, a number many suggest will be necessary to make the playoffs, they will only need to go 11 games above .500, only 3 games above .500 for the rest of the season. If you pro-rate the current Leafs winning percentage over an 82 game season they are on pace for almost 95 points.
The other good news is that finally the Leafs injury problems are behind them, at least for now. The last of the injured players, Liles and Armstrong, returned to action earlier this week. James Reimer returned earlier this season, but didn't seem like his old self. He was written off by many who exulted Gustavsson and crowned him the Leafs' savior. But tonight Reimer gave those critics something to reconsider. He was great last year down the stretch and the Leafs were hoping for much of the same this season and although things haven't quite gone as planned for both the Leafs or Reimer, they look to be making a turn for the better.
Reimer's excellent performance tonight is hopefully a sign of things to come in the next few months. His play showed that he is not only capable of being steady enough to get wins for the Leafs, but good enough that he can steal a game for the team as well. Granted, it has only been two games and that isn't a good enough sample size to take to the bank, but its a really good place to start.
The Leafs have a busy few weeks ahead of them. They have four games in six nights next week. Monday they host the Edmonton Oilers, Tuesday it's Winnipeg on the road, Thursday they head into Philadelphia and Saturday they come back home to welcome Montreal. Then, after two nights of rest, they will be embarking on a western Canadian road-trip that starts with back to back games in Calgary and Edmonton and ends in Vancouver on the 18th of February. Of those seven games, only two of them are against opponents with a better record than the Leafs, the Flyers and the Canucks.
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