Ville Husso is scheduled to start Saturday when the Wings host Atlantic Division-leading Boston, but past that, Reimer might see action in the next game. He has certainly made a case for more starts, delivering a 24-save performance Thursday against the Florida Panthers.
"He’s been sharp, really sharp," head coach Derek Lalonde said after the 2-0 loss at Little Caesars Arena. "Every time he’s been in there, he’s given us a chance."
The Wings (6-4-1) have one victory in their past five games — in overtime Monday against the New York Islanders — as they've cooled off after winning five of their first six games. The Wings scored 34 goals during a 5-1-1 start, converting 12 times on power plays, but the man advantage is 0-for-13 the past four games, and Lalonde indicated it was time to make changes to the units. They were 0-for-5 against the Panthers.
Reimer has been a great consistency through his four starts: in Columbus against the Blue Jackets, and home games against the Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and Panthers. He's 2-1-1, with a 1.52 goals-against average and .944 save percentage. Reimer, 35, was signed in the offseason for one year and $1.5 million to back up Husso and has looked terrific since he first stepped on the ice at training camp in September.
"I’ve been blessed to play this game for a few seasons now and I think as you get older in your career, you take it less and less for granted and you want to make every day count," he said. "Getting a chance to play for such a great organization like this, and a team that’s building and that has high aspirations and high expectations, especially within the room, we believe in ourselves. That’s contagious and you just want to do your part."
Husso's numbers — a 3.28 GAA and .900 save percentage — aren't as impressive, but he was excellent Monday against the Islanders and had a strong outing Oct. 28 against the Bruins on the road. Through 11 games, the Wings have generally started Husso two consecutive games and then played Reimer, but that could change depending how things go in the rematch with the Bruins.
"Ville was excellent his last game out," Lalonde said. "We had a scheduled start for Ville on Saturday. We’ll see how that goes and go from there."
The Panthers grabbed momentum Thursday after Klim Kostin took what Lalonde called "a lazy stick penalty," 2:23 into the game. Reimer came through with nine saves the first six minutes, though, despite the Panthers' strong start, keeping the game scoreless for most of two periods.
"He was excellent," Lalonde said. "I felt a little of the first period shifted on them getting that first power play and getting some good looks on that — the save he made east-west on that was huge. His first period was huge. His numbers are going to be astronomical. It’s very unfortunate we didn’t give him any run support, some goals. He gives up one on four or five glorious grade-A’s; it’s unfortunate we couldn’t bail him out."
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: James Reimer's play a huge bright spot for Detroit Red Wings