Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Don Waddell acquired goaltender James Reimer for two reasons: to move out Scott Darling‘s contract and to provide a veteran backup for Petr Mrazek. So, what did Reimer show in his Hurricanes debut?
You could forgive James Reimer for feeling like he was thrown to the wolves. His first start as a member of the Carolina Hurricanes came against the Washington Capitals, a team boasting Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie, and Jakub Vrana.
If that wasn’t enough, the Capitals were looking for payback after being eliminated in the first round this spring by the upstart Hurricanes in a series that saw Warren Foegele become Public Enemy #1 in the nation’s capital.
Adding fuel to the fire was a preseason scrum in which Capitals winger Tom Wilson became incensed after his chirping at the Hurricanes’ bench drew a reply from head coach Rod Brind’Amour. Tensions were high heading into Saturday night’s matchup and Carolina’s newest goalie was sent out to face whatever lay ahead.
The Hurricanes came out fast and applied pressure which was neutralized by Reimer’s counterpart, Braden Holtby. The Carolina goaltender’s first real test was a shorthanded opportunity by Wilson that he turned aside.
Then, with the first period winding down, Hurricanes’ defenseman Joel Edmundson tossed the puck up the middle, where it landed on the stick of Washington forward Garnet Hathaway. Hathaway promptly skated it and fired a shot over Reimer’s shoulder.
While you could perhaps fault Reimer for playing deep, it was a bad turnover in the middle of the defensive zone, leaving him precious little time to read and react. Despite the undesirable score after one, things were looking good through the halfway mark of the game when the Hockey Gods decided that an oddity was in order.
With the Capitals on a rush, Vrana whipped a puck on net from the wing that Reimer shrugged off. If only it had been that simple.
The puck came to rest in the far side of the crease, where it was batted home by Oshie. There was a debate on whether the puck had crossed the goal line or perhaps touched with a high stick. Once the snow settled, the officials ruled that the goal was good and the Hurricanes found themselves down 2-0.
Reimer would be beaten one more time, though the celebration in D.C. was spoiled when the goal was called back due to goaltender interference. With a reprieve granted, Reimer went all-in for his new team, including turning aside a flurry of shots just prior to Jaccob Slavin knotting the game at two.
From that point on, Reimer yielded no ground to Washington’s attack, keeping his team in the game as regulation drew to a close. Yes, the keeper had experienced a few stretches where things looked iffy, but he held it together when the game was on the line.
Then came overtime. And another Capitals power play.
Let’s just say that #47 took it to another level. The usually potent Washington power play had a lot of chances in the extra stanza, only to be blanked by Reimer at every turn. With the Hurricanes outshot 7-1 in overtime, he certainly had his work cut out for him.
More to the point, the Capitals had the first 7 shots in the added frame, with the Hurricanes’ lone shot beating Holtby by way of a pinpoint shot by another new acquisition, Jake Gardiner.
Okay, Caniacs, what did you think of James Reimer’s debut? Did this game change your thoughts on him at all?