Without getting too carried away, Jonathan Bernier seems to be carving out quite a reputation for himself as the goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It is early, but with Bernier's help the Maple Leafs ran their early-season record to 4-1 with his seventh career shutout in a 4-0 win over the Predators
in Nashville. Bernier held his team in the game for the first 30 minutes when the home team owned the ice and then was rewarded for his efforts by a little goal production.
"I thought in the second half of the game we played a lot better," Bernier said. "We kept it simple. It was a good road game and we found a way to score some goals. That's what we need."
Bernier looked entirely comfortable from start to finish in Nashville, as he has throughout much of the early going, and pointed to a particular point in the game as the turning point.
"It was in the second period on their power play (Leafs David Bolland off for cross-checking at 9:38), I thought I made a couple of good saves," Bernier said. "I was in the right place at the right time and then we scored right after that (Phil Kessel at 13:41
)."1st choice for now
It hasn't taken long for Carlyle to have a change of heart about alternating his goalies. James Reimer started Games 1 and 3 while Bernier started Game 2 and finished Game 3. Bernier, despite being the losing goalie in Game 4 at home against Colorado Tuesday, got the assignment to face the Predators in Nashville Thursday.
Bernier was acquired to be Toronto's No. 1 goalie from the Los Angeles Kings this past summer so none of this should surprise anybody. In Reimer's defence, he allowed four goals in 30:56 against Ottawa last Saturday, but he made some great saves early and the skaters in front of him played quite poorly. Nevertheless, Bernier seems to be Carlyle's choice for now as the team's No. 1 stopper. No surprise really; in six-plus seasons with the Anaheim Ducks Carlyle primarily went with one guy.
And yet Carlyle gets a little testy when the subject of Bernier being the team's No. 1 goalie is broached by the media, even though it is an obvious question given the fact he is the one who decides which goalie plays.
"I knew you'd ask that question because you guys are just waiting to anoint somebody as the No. 1 goalie, but this is the fourth ... fifth game of the year?" Carlyle bristled at the media. "It's a little early guys."
Still, Carlyle was happy to admit Bernier yet again was the difference in the game.
"We're no different than any other team in the league; to have success your goalie has got to give you a chance," he said. "It's as simple as that. The one thing that Bernie did tonight was he stood tall in the nets and didn't give up a lot of second opportunities. He controlled a lot of the rebounds and good for him."WELCOME TO THE SHOW:
Wingers David Broll and Josh Leivo made their NHL debutswith the Maple Leafs in Nashville, becoming the fourth and fifth first-timers to play with Toronto this season. They join defenceman Morgan Rielly and wingers Jamie Devane and Spencer Abbott.
Broll played 9:19 on 13 shifts with two shots on goals and fought Nashville's Matt Hendricks. Leivo played 9:02 on 13 shifts and had one shot on goal.LUPUL RETURNS:
The right/left winger injured his leg Tuesday in a collision with Colorado's P.A. Parenteau and skipped practice Wednesday while undergoing treatment.WELCOME HOME:
Maple Leafs defenceman Cody Franson, who started his career with Nashville, was ridden hard into the stanchion by his team's bench late in the third period by Predators' centre Mike Fisher and left the ice bleeding badly. Fisher's hit did not seem to be an intention to injure, but he was given a five-minute boarding penalty and game misconduct nonetheless. A little padding on the stanchion might be a good idea.
Franson was cut on his nose by his visor and received stitches. The Maple Leafs took advantage of Fisher's major penalty by scoring two goals to put the game out of reach.GUNNER STYMIED:
Defensive defenceman Carl Gunnarsson, who had 12 goals in his first 228 NHL games, was awarded a penalty shot in the final minute after being hooked on a breakaway. He missed the free shot while attempting a backhand deke. Safe to say if the Maple Leafs get into a shootout, he won't be one of the first three players picked to participate.
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