The Carolina Hurricanes entered the season once again uncertain about their netminding duo, however James Reimer turned out to be a bright spot.
James Reimer has had an illustrious career. In his sixth season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he was traded to the San Jose Sharks. He then signed with the Florida Panthers to backup Roberto Luongo before finding himself in a trade for Scott Darling and a sixth round pick from the Carolina Hurricanes.
To be honest, at the beginning of the season, I was not convinced that a player that was almost bought out by Florida, a team that had no real back-up behind newly signed Sergei Bobrovsky, would have anything to bring to a tandem that was obviously going to be led by Petr Mrazek. On top of that, Florida took on Darling and bought him out in order to get rid of Reimer.
What was a man who had become the oldest player on the roster going to bring to the table that couldn’t have been filled by Alex Nedeljkovic?
25 games played and a 14-6-2 record, Reimer would prove to be the more reliable netminder in th duo. Now granted, due to his age, he couldn’t be the goalie to ride game after game, but the numbers, including the advanced statistics show that between all five goalies that have stepped into the crease for the Carolina Hurricanes, Reimer was the best.
Reimer’s 0.914 sv% stands head and shoulders above the rest. Since Mrazek is the only other goalie to play at least five games, he will be the main point of comparison. Mrazek, while over the goalie mendoza line of 0.900 sv% is still only at 0.905 sv%. Granted he has played more games and faced bigger opponents, but that still doesn’t take away from Reimer.
Reimer also has the lower GAA between the two sitting at 2.66 compared to Mrazek’s 2.69. But the difference there is minimal. In fact both save percentages and goals allowed are a combination of defensive efforts and goaltending, so it’s not a fair comparison of netminding.
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So let’s take a look at the advanced analytics.
When it comes to sv% percentage above expected James Reimer is tied for 7th in the league among netminders that have played at least 10 games with 0.389%. This is the percentage difference between the actual save percentage on unblocked shots and the expected save percentage based on expected scoring chances of the shots faced.
It’s a lot of math involved but basically a positive percentage means that he is making more saves than is expected of a league average netminder based on the shots faced. A negative percentage would mean that he is making fewer saves that is expected of a league average netminder.
With the amount of high danger chances given up by this team, it’s good to have a netminder that can consistently make those saves. In comparison Petr Mrazek sits at a -0.142%, meaning he has a habit of allowing a few softer shots in.
Advanced analytics also show that between the two Carolina Hurricanes netminders, Reimer has the better rebound control, allowing fewer of them. Not by much, but it’s there.
Regardless of which netminder you believe is better and if you consider that Mrazek has more wins and has played more games, which is why he is lagging behind Reimer, the point remains the same. James Reimer was a pleasant surprise this season and a big reason why the Carolina Hurricanes are in a position to make the playoffs if and when the season returns.
Question for CC Readers: Who do you consider the biggest surprise of the season?