CHICAGO — James Reimer and Timo Meier are having seasons worthy of the greats in San Jose Sharks history.
Reimer and Meier were in tune once again during the San Jose Sharks’ 2-0 shutout of the Chicago Blackhawks. Reimer stopped 29 shots to improve his save percentage to .933, while Meier popped in both goals for his 19th and 20th points of the year.
Reimer’s .933 is the second-best start through 21 games of the season in franchise history, following only Antti Niemi’s .935 in 2012-13. Other fantastic starts? Steve Shields’s .933 in 1999-00, Evgeni Nabokov’s .930 in 2009-10, and Martin Jones’s .929 in 2015-16.
These weren’t just great starts, except for Shields, either: Niemi was a 2013 Vezina Trophy finalist, Nabokov finished fourth in the voting in 2010, and Jones led the Sharks to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.
As for Reimer, is this some of the best hockey that he’s ever played? The 12-year veteran’s career season-high save percentage is .924, recorded in 2012-13.
“Yeah, I think so,” Reimer offered. He then pointed to his off-season work.
“Simply put, I just worked on my stance a little bit this summer,” the affable netminder shared. “Try and put yourself in a place where you can move and make saves to the best of your ability. Put your body in position to react.”
Reimer was especially strong in the first period, making 11 stops, many of the high-danger variety. Suffice to say, Bob Boughner was not pleased.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we were playing in our defensive zone. I thought that we weren’t collapsing or protecting the house, we weren’t stopping our feet. We were losing all kinds of battles,” the head coach disclosed. “So we talked about that in between the first and second, I brought five or six clips. I don’t usually do that, but I went and had everybody watch what was going on. And we responded.”
“We’ve never had that happen,” Mario Ferraro admitted. “But I’m glad he did.”
Meanwhile, Meier just keeps ticking. Besides accounting for all the scoring at the United Center, he was pretty much responsible for all of the shots too: Meier had six, count them six, of San Jose’s 21 shots.
“That’s a big difference in his game. He’s putting a lot more pucks to the net. Whether bad angle or slings from the corner, whatever creates other opportunities,” Boughner pointed out.
Meier’s 20 points in 15 games is the third-fastest to 20 in franchise history, trailing just Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.
Timo Meier scored twice to reach the 20-point mark (9-11—20 in 16 GP) as the @SanJoseSharks improved to 4-1-0 over their last five games in Chicago.#NHLStats: https://t.co/Ns8AAN0RdS pic.twitter.com/NlnPpEhA0Z
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 29, 2021
Thornton, of course, won the Hart Trophy in 2006, while Marleau was selected as a third-team All-Star left winger in 2010.
For what it’s worth, Marleau played a lot of center that year, so Meier’s start could be considered the best for a pure winger in San Jose Sharks history. Yes, even better than Owen Nolan’s 1999-00 campaign — Nolan didn’t reach 20 points until his 16th game.
Comparing Meier to fan favorite Nolan might be sacrilege, but the numbers don’t lie, at least right now. And both were hard-to-handle power forwards.
Nolan finished his breakout year with 44 goals and was selected as a third-team All-Star.
Of course, it’s still a long way to go for Meier — but much like Nolan in 1999-00, there’s been little doubt who’s been the Sharks’ best forward on most nights.
“I thought he was our best forward again tonight,” Boughner said. “He’s carrying us offensively.”
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