Reimer has a fan in Babcock ... sort of

Colorado Avalanche's Paul Stastny watches the puck bounce off the pad of Toronto Maple Leafs' James...

Colorado Avalanche's Paul Stastny watches the puck bounce off the pad of Toronto Maple Leafs' James Reimer. (REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:42 PM ET

DETROIT — From what little Mike Babcock has seen of Maple Leafs goaltender James Reimer, the Detroit Red Wings coach is impressed.

But if you want to know what Babcock really thinks of Reimer, well, he might get back to you in a year or so.

“My thing with goalies is always the test of time,” Babcock said on Friday morning after the Wings practised at Joe Louis Arena in preparation for Saturday night’s game versus the Leafs.

“Not only are you going to (perform well) for one or two years, but over time. And as the shooters get to know you, as we get to know you, we will have better reports on you. He has some good ability, or he would not be playing.”

Reimer carries a 17-7-4 record into the game, including victories in eight of his past nine road decisions. Reimer might not be the absolute sole reason the Leafs remain in the playoff hunt — scoring has been relatively balanced and captain Dion Phaneuf has been playing like the Leafs are his team — but Reimer has been the main thrust in the club’s last-breath charge.

Babcock said he did not have much knowledge of Reimer, but added that he liked what he saw when he watched on TV on Thursday night as the Leafs won in Colorado.

Leafs coach Ron Wilson verbally bristled, initially, when told of Babcock’s thoughts. But when the light went on and it occurred to the sarcastic Wilson that the sun will come up tomorrow, he changed his tune.

“I remember hearing last week, and everybody told me, that all the teams in the league had a book on Reimer,” Wilson said, “and that’s why he lost a couple of games. It was Tampa, then it was Philadelphia, whoever we happened to play had a book on Reims. They’re not sharing and I am shocked.

“All you have to do is watch one game and have an idea of the style. Is he a big butterfly, a blocker, how does he move side to side?”

Wilson agreed with Babcock on one notion — taking full scope of what kind of future Reimer has is impossible to do at this point. Although many struggle in their second NHL season, there’s no telling what Reimer might do as a sophomore.

“About 80% of players drop off in their second year,” Wilson said, speaking generally. “They get comfortable, the first season probably went a lot better than they had hoped, and they probably don’t work as hard in the summer time. You give the same message to all of those guys, and it goes in one ear and out the other.”

Reimer has not given any indication that he is that type of person. As it was, after the Leafs practised on Friday afternoon not long after their flight from Denver touched down, he was not thinking looking beyond Saturday night.

“I hope I don’t ever get too comfortable,” the 23-year-old said. “I try to learn from the last game and play as best as I can in the next one.”

Besides, Reimer was jacked at the thought of playing a team with as rich a past as the Wings.

“You respect this place, the team and the building,” Reimer said. “They have won a lot of championships and have a had a lot of good players come through here. It’s a building where you walk in and feel that. They have a heck of a team.”

But ...

“They are pretty beatable,” Reimer said. “They don’t have a perfect record this year.”

terry.koshan@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/koshtorontosun


Photos