One person who most paid the price for the massive number of turnovers by the Maple Leafs in Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series was goaltender James Reimer.
After the game, Reimer had a hefty 4.00 goals-against average and .900 save percentage after the 4-1 loss.
The rangy 25-year-old is coming off a stellar regular season. He finished tied for sixth in NHL shutouts with four, and tied for seventh in save percentage (.924) in 33 games. That is the highest in a season by an eligible Leafs goaltender since the league began keeping that statistic in 1983-84. The previous mark was held by Ed Belfour (.922) during the 2002-03 season.
On Wednesday, his team hung him out to dry. But Reimer said despite everyone knowing the team has to play better, he said there was still plenty of confidence in the Leafs’ dressing room.
“Obviously, it’s no lie, we didn’t play our best game,’’ said Reimer, who made his Stanley Cup playoff debut Wednesday, add then backed it up with a 39-save performance in the Maple Leafs’ 4-2 win in Game 2 Saturday night at TD Garden. “But we have had tough games before throughout the season. It’s not indicative of how we can play. Obviously, it’s a good team over there. Our confidence is still up.’’
The atmosphere during the Maple Leafs’ two days of practice was pretty light and Reimer said no one dwelled on what went wrong. Instead, they were focusing on how to be better.
“You learn from your mistakes, you go over it,’’ Reimer said. “You see what you did wrong, but there’s no point in dwelling on it. It’s a new day and we have a new opportunity. The game is pretty much the same, it’s just a little more intense. You’ve got to learn as a team how to handle that.’’
The Leafs generated just 20 shots on net, while Boston generated twice that number. Reimer said the Maple Leafs need to put more pressure on the Bruins
“Obviously, we want to spend a little more time in their zone and be able to transition out of our own end a little better,’’ said Reimer, who got his wish in Game 2 as the Leafs had 32 shots on goal and put more pressure on the Bruins.
In addition to Reimer, nine other Leafs made their playoff debut on Wednesday — forwards Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Nikolai Kulemin, Clarke MacArthur and Frazer McLaren; defensemen Carl Gunnarsson and Mike Kostka. Kostka was knocked out of the lineup because of a fractured index finger and did not suit up for Game 2 . . . The most experienced player on the Leafs roster in terms of playoff appearances is forward James van Riemsdyk. The 24-year-old former University of New Hampshire star played his first 39 postseason contests with the Flyers. He was traded to Toronto last June. In all, he has 12 goals and 4 assists in 40 postseason games. Van Riemsdyk scored the lone goal for the Maple Leafs on Wednesday and added a stellar strike in the third period Saturday night . . . Leafs coach Randy Carlyle was hoping for more of a contribution from former Bruin Phil Kessel. On Wednesday, Kessel played in his first playoff game since 2009, when he was with Boston. In Game 2, Kessel displayed his speed through center ice when he took a nice pass from Kazem Kadri, broke free down the slot, and beat Tuukka Rask for the Leafs’ third goal . . . Former Bruin Colton Orr led the NHL in penalty minutes this season with 155. The last Toronto player to do that was Tiger Williams (298) during the 1978-79 season. Orr recorded two hits and no penalty minutes Saturday.
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.