Florida Panthers: James Reimer failing to run away with starting gig

SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 30: Goaltender Antti Niemi
SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 30: Goaltender Antti Niemi /

The Florida Panthers envisioned the James Reimer storyline differently than it has played out so far this season. Time is of the essence already between the pipes.

The 29-year-old veteran seemingly had a large enough sample size to run with the Panthers starting job, while fellow goaltender Roberto Luongo tended to injuries and occasional rest.

Reimer’s numbers early on this season are very alarming in comparison to last year:

  • 2016/17: 39 starts, 18 wins, 16 losses, 5 OTL/SO, 2.53 GAA, .920 SV %
  • This season: 8 starts, 3 wins, 4 losses, 1 OTL/SO, 4.00 GAA, .890 SV %

The Morweena, Manitoba product inspired his team around him last year with timely athletic saves and big game performances — like, for instance, October 30th 2016 with an excellent 34-save effort in a 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Early into this young season, Reimer has failed to make the big stop as frequently thus being pulled twice recently.


Luongo told the Miami Herald this past offseason that he had full confidence in Reimer heading into the season:

"“Reimer is a starter in the NHL, no doubt about it. He looks amazing, better than even he did last year.”"

What has not been amazing is the Panthers defense (league worst 4.14 GA/G heading into their matchup versus the Buffalo Sabres). From my viewpoint, the difference between last year and this year is the goaltending — namely, Reimer — not bailing out the below average young d-core nearly as often as they did last year.

Reimer needs to start normalizing his numbers soon — 5 on 5 play would be a good start:

Even former Panthers beat-writer George Richards weighed in recently during the Columbus Blue Jackets/Florida Panthers tilt:

One has to wonder with Reimer’s icy start to the year, does that push the organization to force feed Luongo even more starts, thus pushing age and injury concerns to the back burner, in order to salvage a possible lost season?

Maybe this tactic from last season is worth bringing back to practices (pictured below):

Reimer’s ability to keep his emotions in check has been absent of late, visibly showing outward frustration on the bench. Entering a critical point in his career, it will be interesting to see which direction Reimer’s tenure with the Panthers heads towards.