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Leafs' goalie James Reimer thrown under the bus after loss

Toronto Maple Leafs goalie James Reimer looks down after allowing two goals early in first period NHL hockey action against the Washington Capitals during in Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Nathan Denette/CP

First the fans were down on James Reimer, booing and offering mock cheers when he stopped a few easy shots.

Then his coach threw him under the bus – and not for the first time in the past week.

Saturday was again a very difficult night for the Toronto Maple Leafs young netminder, as he allowed two questionable goals to start what became a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals.

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The defeat was Toronto's eighth in nine games, and the poor start was one of many for Reimer of late.

"The two goals early in the game were stoppable chances," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said to open his postgame press conference. "They got saves at one end. We didn't. And we dug a hole because of that.

"We're kind of always waiting now for something bad to happen on the goal line and we've got to find a way to get over that. Simple.

"I don't know many coaches who actually have the answer to that. You can pull the goalie [but]I thought tonight I'll call a timeout and tell everybody to relax, that we can get out of this hole."

It was a theme Wilson has gone back to again and again of late, including in response to a question Saturday night about if the Leafs need to make any additions before Monday's trade deadline.

"We've got to figure out a way to get a save here and there," he said. "[Then] I think we'll be in good shape. We were in good shape before. And in the last two weeks, we've had trouble keeping the puck out of our net.

"When not even really scoring chances are in the net, boom, you're down 2-0, you're seeing an uphill battle the rest of the night. It's tough when everyone gets down to keep them propped up. You try your best."

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How any of that helps Wilson's team out of its current 1-7-1 funk is anyone's guess.

Reimer was more upset than usual after the game, and he spoke very quietly to the dozens of media gathered around his stall in the empty dressing room.

He was asked how he felt about the reception from the fans, many of whom left the game early in the third period in spite of a comeback attempt by the Leafs.

"The fans, they've been pretty loyal to us and pretty loyal to me," Reimer said. "They're the ones that pay the money, they're the ones that deserve to have the guys try to play well in front of them. Me included.

"If they feel I wasn't playing up to snuff and they want to give it to me, that's their right. If they feel like that's the thing to do, then that's the thing to do. I was a fan once, too. It's all good."

Reimer's teammates, however, defended him after the game, something that's become a regular occurrence for the Leafs and their beleaguered netminders.

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The likelihood that GM Brian Burke acquires a goaltender by Monday's trade deadline, meanwhile, is now very high, as the organization clearly has zero confidence in Jonas Gustavsson and Reimer's confidence is rattled.

"Obviously they're frustrated," Colby Armstrong said of the fans booing Reimer. "James has been a goalie that's battled for us. He got injured at the start of the year and came back.

"We stand behind him. Obviously you don't like to see that happen to your goalie. It's pisses you off for sure."

Since suffering a concussion in the Leafs seventh game of the season, Reimer's numbers have taken a hard fall from what he posted last season.

He is 7-10-3 with a 3.11 goals-against average and .900 save percentage since the injury.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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