InGoal Daily Update: Reimer’s reprieve + Fleury’s pose down
… Plus a Hasek-inspired stop by Mike McKenna, Jonas Hiller’s evolution outside the crease, Crawford goes back to back, the top-10 puck-handling goalies and more in the Jan. 13 Daily Update.
So much for James Reimer’s impending demotion back to the American Hockey League, as reported here and everywhere just a few days ago. Turns out you really can play your way into the NHL, regardless of status.
Reimer has been impressive enough to not only stick around, but will make his fourth straight start Thursday in Phoenix, a game that was originally earmarked for the return of veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere from a nagging groin injury, and a return to the farm club Toronto Marlies for the young Reimer.
With a four-game win streak, a 4-1 record and a .949 save percentage it’s hard to imagine doing anything else.
“He’s earned a shot, we’re playing very well in front of him, it’s just common sense,” Ron Wilson told reporters after Reimer made 40 saves to give the Leafs coach career win No. 600 against the San Jose Sharks, a team that fired him, Tuesday. “We have some momentum going and we’re not going to toy with that kind of karma.”
Both a healthy Giguere and highly touted Swedish sophomore Jonas Gustavsson were saying all the right things to the Toronto Sun about the decision to keep three goalies. So too as General Manager Brian Burke despite comments earlier in the week that Giguere would be back in goal, and Reimer back in the minors by now. But while Burke praised the young goalie, he was cautious too:
“James has a placid demeanour in the net, he’s a very economical goalie,” Burke told the Sun. “It lends itself to calm play on the rest of the team. He’s not Denis Lemieux (from the movie Slap Shot), flopping around in French. He has been a wall, he’s a thick body in there and when he gets bumped, he doesn’t move much. But I’d caution people that he’s a kid, and it’s been an extremely short run. This prosperity could end at any time, so we’re not putting too much weight on him.”
The Toronto Star also has a good story on how Reimer patiently waited while no fewer than 11 other goalies got a shot ahead of him after the Maple Leafs drafted him 99th overall in 2006, winning a Kelly Cup championship in the ECHL.
As to where he gets his composure, it was interesting to hear former NHL goaltender Greg Millen say during the broadcast of Tuesday’s win that Reimer said he never had a lot of goaltending coaches growing up. Certainly he has legendary guru Francois Allaire now, and there is an element of Giguere visible in his stance and save preparation, though with a wider butterfly when he drops. Reimer played his junior for the Red Deer Rebels, the same team that produced Cam Ward, but told Millen he did most of his learning by watching the technically sound style of his younger partner at the time, Morgan Clark, who is currently in his final season of junior hockey with Rimouski in the QMJHL. Clark also happens to be the son of long-time NHL goaltending guru Ian Clark, who also happens to have been the goalie coach for Ward through junior and into the NHL.
Reimer, 22, was expecting to be playing in front of family and friends when the Leafs’ AHL affiliate visited the Abbotsford Heat just outside Vancouver this weekend, and is trying not to let himself think too much about how long he might stay, or whether he’s earned permanent status with the big club yet.
“Obviously those thoughts creep in your head,” Reimer told the Sun. “But as fast as they come in, you want to get them out of there. As soon as you start thinking about the big picture, you lose sight of the next puck, the next practice, the next game. You can’t allow yourself that, or give yourself the day off. Anything can happen, so I’m just focusing on small bits.”
Spoken like a real NHL goaltender.
Fleury throws rap-style pose back at Price
They may (or may not) end up as teammates at the NHL All Star Game later this month, but that didn’t keep Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury from having a little fun at Carey Price’s expense after beating the Canadiens on Wednesday night. Fleury crossed his arms and posed b-boy style after the win, a direct response to the same cross-armed ganster-rap look Price threw at the Penguins after a shootout win six days earlier.
“Ah, I’m just having some fun,” Fleury told reporters. “I just thought that’s how we celebrate in Montreal.”
Not that Fleury would know much about celebrating in Montreal. In fact, after backup Brent Johnson was tabbed to start the game a week earlier, some were talking about a “Canadiens curse” for the goalie known as Flower, whose early season struggles were seen as a mental hangover from last season’s playoff problems in Montreal, especially after he gave up two late goals 24 seconds apart to lose there early this season.
McKenna channels his inner Dominik Hasek
After a week when 45-year-old Dominik Hasek was named Goalie of the Week in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League after recording two shutouts among three wins, we thought it appropriate to bring you a Hasek-inspired barrel roll stop by New Jersey prospect and one-time InGoal Magazine regular Mike McKenna:
McKenna actually ended up making the save with his paddle, which reminded us of sprawling Superman save he made in December that also warranted a spot in, but pre-dated, the daily updates here at InGoal (and sadly came after his ability to “tweet” about it ended).
Crawford doesn’t have to wait long for shutout No.3
Corey Crawford pitched a shutout in his first NHL start. It took almost three years for him to get another, but just three days to add career goose egg No.3. Crawford made 24 saves for a second-straight shutout in a 4-0 win over Colorado on Wednesday night, and is benefitting from renewed commitment to the kind of team defense that helped the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup behind Antti Niemi last season.
Crawford hasn’t allowed a goal in 126 minutes, 23 seconds after stopping T.Galiardi on a breakaway with 6:33 left, and talked to the the Chicago Tribune about the change in front of him:
“The team’s playing really well. We’re holding on to the puck and have a lot of puck possession. The last two games we’ve been skating really hard and we’ve been really fast. We’re making it hard on the other team. … I’m more worried about the win. (Shutouts are) ice, but wins are all that counts.”
All Star Hiller adds a handle to leadership roll with streaking Ducks
We’ll take a little issue with the first few graphs talking about Hiller “altering his style” and “turning himself into a different goalie” but NHL.com deserves kudos for picking up on the increasing amount of time Anaheim All Star stopper Jonas Hiller is spending outside his crease this season. At the insistence of Ducks coaches, Hiller has added puck handling to his already strong butterfly repertoire, making himself a better goaltender overall.
The move was predicated by Anaheim losing future Hall of Fame defensemen Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer in consecutive summers, something Hiller told InGoal would require him to take more of a leadership role in the blue ice this season. Turns out part of that was leaving the crease more often for Hiller, who had his shutout streak snapped at 178 minutes, 34 seconds in Wednesday’s 7-4 win over St. Louis.
“He’s bought into some of the things we want him to do, and one is being more active in the net to play pucks, dump pucks and rim pucks,” head coach Randy Carlyle told NHL.com. “Beforehand he had no inclination on doing that, but it’s involved him in the game more. He’s sharper in the game because he’s active going to track a puck down, whereas before he didn’t view that as part of his responsibility.”
No one will mistake him for Marty Turco anytime soon, but ask any defenseman if they’d rather have the puck stopped and set up for them or just be left to do it all themselves and the answer is the same every time. As for “changing his style,” it seems Hiller agrees with us:
“My first focus is stopping the puck, that’s what I’m measured on, but if I can help the defensemen out and make life easier on them, I’m glad to do it,” he said. “We’ve had talks about it. I don’t know if I changed my style in net, but I’m definitely trying to be more active around the net.”
One-timers from around the puck-stopping world (wide web):
After Henrik Lundqvist became just the third NHL goalie to record an assist in three straight games, The Hockey News came up with a list of the top-10 puck-handling goaltenders of all time. We’re not going to argue with the names, but will take issue with the order, in particular putting Martin Brodeur, who tells a good story about being inspired by No.2 Ron Hextall to play the puck as a kid, at the top. Both are ahead of Marty Turco, who most NHL goalies and goaltending coaches will tell you is the best ever. Not only can Turco handle the puck better than some forwards, but as documented by InGoal earlier this season, he revolutionized the way every goalie plays it with the overhand grip he invented in college.
Minnesota may have a shortage of goalies after Jose Theodore was listed as questionable to even practice Thursday with lower body issues, according to the Star Tribune, just a few days after Wild No.1 Niklas Backstrom left the team to have his sore hip examined. The good news is Backstrom only needs rest for a sore hip flexor, but will be shut down for at least four or five more days, so if Theodore can’t play Friday, the Wild is left with only Anton Khudobin.
Swedish stopper Robin Lehner, fresh off a strong stint at the World Juniors, was recalled by the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, and is widely expected to get his first NHL start Thursday against the New York Islanders, according to a report in the Ottawa Sun.
The abdominal surgery that will keep Chris Osgood out of Detroit’s for the next six to eight weeks had a trickle down effect for the Red Wings, one that prospect Thomas McCollum is desperately hoping to take advantage of. With Joey MacDonald called up to back up Jimmy Howard in the NHL, the 21-year-old McCollum, a first-round draft pick, was summoned back from a late December demotion to the ECHL after struggling in the AHL early this season, and according to the Grand Rapids Press is eager to play again and re-establish his place in the organization.