In the Toronto-Boston NHL playoff series, redemption seems to be the word of play for the young Maple Leafs roster. The Leafs were the undisputed underdogs going into the first round against the more experienced, and physically stronger Bruins roster. But in a remarkable test of resilience and creativity, the Leafs forced the Bruins into a surprising Game 7 where it becomes anyone’s game.
The Toronto franchise faced disappointment since its last Stanley Cup win in 1967, and in particular over the last 9 years in failing to qualify for the playoffs. However, disappointment turned into redemption during the past six games as the young team found its legs to outskate the Bruins in most minutes on the ice.
While few fans and sports bettors place any fault for the Leafs’ poor season last year on goaltender James Reimer, the young netminder considers this year his own personal redemption. Reimer suffered a concussive blow to the head early in the 2011-2012 season that sidelined him for nearly two months. After getting back on the ice, Reimer was noticeably different, and hesitant to make the big saves he became known for when he was called up from the minors in 2010.
But this year, and especially over the last two games in the playoffs, the old Reimer came back to life. While he still has work to do in playing the top of the net, particularly with his glove hand, Reimer stood on his head in the last two games to shut down most of Boston’s sharpshooters, while his teammates rallied off the performance of their number one goalie to make plays of their own. Reimer stopped Boston forward Patrice Bergeron with spectacular saves in Games 5 and 6, which appeared to light a spark on the Leafs’ offensive lines.
Hockey analysts and online casino forums repeatedly stress that Reimer must be the best player on the ice for the Leafs to hold their own against the Bruins. Though there were some inconsistencies early in the playoffs, which were chalked up to the nerves of inexperience, Reimer has found his place once again, and is solely responsible for the Leafs having a chance in this post-season.
Reimer’s redemption inspired captain Dion Phaneuf, who admits responsibility for the goal that cost the Leafs Game 4, as well as Phil Kessel, whose history against the Bruins is a struggle of its own, to fight for their own redemptions. The Leafs are at last functioning as a team, which is necessary to survive in the playoffs. Leafs in 7 lit up the social media world minutes after the end of Game 6 last night – as of 10:00pm EST tonight, one team moves on while the other calls it a season.