Bernier Proving to be the Right Man for the Leafs' Net

10/18/13 in NHL   |   patrickhoffman3530   |   122 respect

Oct 17, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Jonathan Bernier (45) warms up before their game against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY SportsFor the past three seasons or so, there is no doubt that the Toronto Maple Leafs saw some good things from netminder James Reimer.

Reimer, 25, won a bunch of games, got the team into the postseason last year for the first time since 2004 and he showed that he could withstand both the media and fan pressure to perform well on a very big stage. In all, Reimer has showed a lot of promise and at such a young age, he has the potential to do a lot more.

With that said, however, the play of newcomer Jonathan Bernier has the Leafs’ organization and their fans turning their heads. Bernier, 25, the former back-up goaltender to Jonathan Quick since the 2010-11 season until he was traded in the off-season, is finally getting a chance on the big stage and so far, is playing to rave reviews.

Bernier is 4-2 with a 1.75 goals against average, a .946 save percentage and one shutout. For the first time in a long time, Bernier is getting a lot of work between the pipes and thus far, it is paying off for both him and the Leafs.

In his first victory as a Leaf, a 31-save effort in a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers in Philadelphia, Leafs’ head coach Randy Carlyle told Michael Traikos of The National Post that he was impressed with how Bernier looked between the pipes and how he seemed to be able to control his game.

“He just battled and stopped the puck,” Leafs head coach said of Bernier. “Any of the loose pucks that were around he seemed to have the ability to scoop up with his trapper or his blocker. He grabbed pucks and when there were loose pucks around he didn’t get many of the second opportunities.”

Carlyle described Bernier’s style to a “T”. In six games this season, Bernier has showed the ability to control his rebounds, not give the opponent any second or third opportunities near the net while also keeping calm between the pipes.

Bernier showed both his calmness and mental toughness tonight in a tough 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. Coming in for an injured Reimer, who left tonight’s game 32 seconds in after a collision with teammate Josh Leivo, Bernier went out and stopped 34 of 37 shots.

It is never easy to come in cold to a game but Bernier showed tonight that the Leafs can count on him to be ready at all times. Sure, he did not win tonight but he more than gave his team a chance to win a hockey game by doing his part and keeping them in it.

It is a long season and Carlyle has definitely been known to switch back and forth between goaltenders throughout different seasons in his coaching career. With that said, Bernier has shown enough to be given the keys to the starting goaltending job.
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