Carlyle could have easily pulled Reimer after the 3rd Penguins goal in the first period. The Leafs goaltender started the game looking very shaky between the pipes. He was dropping pucks and kicking out risky rebounds regularly, and of course, the Pens will make you pay if you play that way.
The Leafs got dominated in the first period by a more prepared Penguins team. As bad as Reimer looked at times he was largely left out to dry by his team’s poor defensive play. The second and third Penguins’ goals came less than a minute apart. This was Carlyle’s chance to yank Reimer but he chose not to and it looks like he made the right decision.
The Leafs started clawing their way back into the game in the second period and Reimer started making the saves he needed to make. He bounced back very well. After allowing 3 in the first twenty minutes, Reimer stopped 27 of 28 the rest of the way en route to a 5-4 shootout loss.
As much as pulling a goalie can be a wake up call to the rest of the team, not pulling him can send a similar wake up call. I’m thinking this particular wake up call was very loud coming from Randy Carlyle between periods. The message Carlyle sent by keeping Reimer in the net was that the rest of the team needed to wake up and start helping their goaltender out. They eventually did and a competitive hockey game ensued.
Randy Carlyle has added accountability to the Leafs in his short time as head coach. He has his players buying into his system and the results are more positive than negative. The Leafs are still a young and very inexperienced team so they’re going to have their troubles along the way. Carlyle’s made them stronger at dealing with those little bumps in the road and because of that they look like they could make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.