Head Games

- March 16th, 2012

TAMPA – While James Reimer celebrated his 24th birthday in style by backstopping the Leafs to a 3-1 win over the Lightning on Thursday, such quality starts have been sporadic for the personable young goaltender.

To that end, teammate John Michael Liles suspects he knows one of the reasons why.

Knowing how long it took to get up to speed himself after missing a chunk of the season with a concussion, Liles wonders if Reimer has gone through a similar uphill climb.

Reimer was off to a sizzling start to the season until he was ploughed over by Montreal captain Brian Gionta in late October, a collision that left him out of action for more than a month with concussion-like symptoms.

Since coming back in mid-December, Reimer has shown flashes of his former self but has been unable to string together a lengthy consistent run.

“I know in my own case that when I came back, I may have felt ok physically but it took me a while to make the type of fast decisions you need to out there,” Liles said. “I keep saying, it’s like trying to merge from the hiway shoulder into traffic. You are going 5 kph and everyone else is going 100 kph.

“I know what I went through, so I couldn’t image what it’s like for a goalie like James. People don’t understand how long the entire process takes, even if you are back out there. And for a goalie, every mistake is magnified.

“He’s a good young goalie. I think what you saw (Thursday) proved that.”

Categories: Hockey

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