No one could have predicted that 14 games into the 2013-14 NHL season the Toronto Maple Leafs would have sole possession of 1st place in the Eastern Conference. Thanks to the unstoppable force of the “1a” and “1b” goaltending tandem of James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier, the Leafs are leading the pack with a remarkable 10-4 record.
James Reimer has recovered from a head-on collision with a teammate back on October 17th and has stopped 78 of the last 79 shots he has faced since returning to action. Dating back to his start against Minnesota on October 15th, he’s allowed just 2 goals in his last 180 minutes & 22 seconds of playing time. Reimer ranks 2nd overall in SV% at .949 and 7th overall with a GAA of 1.99. Not far behind is Jonathan Bernier whose .933 SV% (7th) and 2.31 GAA (13th) place his among the league leaders as well.
Toronto’s team goals-against-average is 2.29 placing them 6th in the league and their .938 SV% is amount the best. The Leafs have allowed 3 of more goals against in just 6 games this season. Toronto and Montreal are the only two teams who have two goalies who have each recorded a shutout this season.
It remains to be seen if Toronto’s goaltending platoon will survive the challenges of a full 82-game schedule. An injury or inconsistent play could result in either Bernier or Reimer being given the #1 title outright. Coach Randy Carlyle has made it clear that until his hand is forced he is happy and confident to run with whichever goalie he feels will give the Leafs the best chance to win on a given night. It’s tough to argue with the unprecedented success of Toronto’s talented tandem of goaltenders.
The Leafs are in Vancouver awaiting a difficult test against the Canucks on Saturday night. Due to an irregularity in the schedule, Toronto will then have a lengthy lay-off with several days off before hosting the New Jersey Devils back in Toronto next Friday.
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