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Preview/Lines #20: Reimer Off to Best Goaltending Start in Sharks History

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Credit: San Jose Sharks

San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer is doing his best to give his team a chance to win, even if that means going the extra mile.

After a 4-0 loss to the Washington Capitals, Reimer took charge and called his head coach, Bob Boughner, late at night to provide an edge ahead of a pivotal matchup against his former team, the Carolina Hurricanes.

“I try and leave the coaching to the coaches,” Reimer said, “But playing there, you get a really in-depth look at their system and what they do really well and maybe a few small things that you can exploit.”

Boughner doesn’t typically receive calls from his players at 11:30 P.M., but, to his surprise, Reimer hoped to reveal some potential flaws in Carolina’s system ahead of game day.

“He wanted to talk about some things that he saw last year that Carolina struggled with that maybe we could do,” Boughner said, “We had a 30-minute conversation about Carolina. This is a guy thinking, two nights before a game, already about what we can do against Carolina.”

Sure enough, the late-night talk paid off. The San Jose Sharks prevailed with a 2-1 overtime victory over Carolina, thanks to Kevin Labanc’s third-period spark and Alexander Barabanov’s game-winner. Reimer made 22 saves on 23 shots against, securing his fifth win of the season.

At age 33, Reimer is playing some of the best hockey of his career, sporting a .936 save percentage and a 2.04 goals-against average in 11 games, which both rank in the top-ten among all goaltenders in the league.

In fact, Reimer has the best Save % through 19 games in San Jose Sharks history, 10-plus games played. Reimer’s .936 is a shade higher than Steve Shields’s torrid .935 start to the 1999-00 campaign.

So the 12-year veteran netminder isn’t slowing down.

“You always try and work hard and take care of yourself and play the game the right way,” Reimer said. “But I think as you get older, you get wiser, or at least I’d like to think so, right? You learn some things and you learn what helps you perform to your peak. So you just try and grow every year you get older, you try and learn some new tricks to be able to play at your best and extend your career.”

What has Boughner noticed in Reimer’s game since his days with the Florida Panthers together from 2017 to 2019?

“He’s very driven. He’s very focused,” Boughner said. “He sits with the coaching staff and goes through every shooter on the other team before we play, tendencies and what guys are doing… This is a job for him, but it’s something he loves to do, and he’s 100% in and he’s looking to make improvements at his age.”

It may be a long shot for Reimer to make Team Canada for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, but if he keeps improving his numbers, the native of Morweena, Manitoba would be considered a strong candidate in the mix.

“I think if he keeps going like he is, I think he’s going to push himself into that conversation,” Boughner said. “He’s playing with the best in the league right now for me, and it’s a team that we’re not scoring a lot for, and so that margin for error, he’s keeping us in games. He’s give us a chance to win every night.”

Reimer will make his third consecutive start when the San Jose Sharks face his former club, Toronto Maple Leafs, tonight at SAP Center.

San Jose Sharks (10-8-1)

Toronto Maple Leafs (14-6-1)

Maple Leafs Game Day #22: Lines, betting odds on the way to San Jose

Where to Watch

Puck drop against Toronto is 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California and ESPN+. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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