Who is Jonathan Bernier?

You guys remember game 7 right? Ah, of course you do. A game where I thought wasn’t Reimer’s fault, with the exception of 1 goal. He was a big reason for the Leafs getting to game 7. After the series, I really thought Reimer would ride as the #1 goalie in Toronto. Turns out, management thought otherwise and that wasn’t going to be the case. Dave Nonis went out and surprised Leafs nation by acquiring the Kings backup goalie who was Jonathan Bernier. The transaction made it clear that Reimer would have to earn his spot as the starter on this team because let’s be honest, you don’t really have to earn the starting spot when you’re competition is Ben Scrivens. Besides the competition factor and the need to upgrade at the position, why did Nonis and company feel the need to acquire Bernier after Reimer’s season and playoff performances? Well here are a few reasons why I think the move was made:

  1. Despite Reimer’s season and playoff performance, management wanted an upgrade over Scrivens and for Reimer to earn the spot.
  2. Bernier wanted a chance to be a #1 goalie which wasn’t going to happen in LA with Quick there so he requested a trade.
  3. Although he may have not played much or at all in the Kings cup run, he was part of the team and gained that experience which ties into leadership which this team lacks.
  4. Nonis and company were well aware of his high potential.

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Everyone including these two goalies knew that it was going to be a battle to see who gets the nod as the #1, but again, that was not the case for some period of time. Former Leafs coach Randy Carlyle decided to go with a 1A/1B tactic which involves playing the “Hot goalie”. Both goalies were pushing each other to be better. In the end, Bernier ended up being the #1 man until injury and the rest is history. Bernier ended up finishing the season going 26-19-7 in 55 GP with a .923 Sv%, 2.68 Gaa and 1 shutout. Also, here’s a graph of Bernier’s 2013-2014 game by game SV%:

Bernier2

 

The numbers are pretty impressive for a goalie that was in his first year of being a starter. Not to mention constantly facing 30+ shots a night.

This brings us to the very misleading season that is 2014-2015. This time, there’s no doubt Bernier is the clear cut #1 unless of course an injury occurs. But this year, even taking into considering the train wreck team in front of him, I believe Bernier has taken a step back and was a better goalie last season. For those who know me, understand that I’m not really a numbers first guy when it comes to assessments. Bernier is still looking good at times this season but lacks consistency unlike last season where even when he was facing 30+ shots a night, he was still stealing games and giving this team a chance to win. I don’t think that’s been the case this year. We’ve seen a lot of weak goals let in this year which happens to every goalie, don’t get me wrong, but it’s happened a lot more this year. So, for you stats obsessed people, here’s a line of Bernier’s stats so far this season and another game by game SV% graph: WARNING depending on what your expectations of Bernier are, viewer discretion may be strongly advised. 50 GP, 20-23-6, 2 SO, .912 Sv%, 2.87 GAA.

Bernier1

Unfortunately, I have to say that these numbers are indicative of his play this season. But they certainly don’t define him as a goalie overall. Yes, players are allowed to have off years.

The Good with Bernier:

  • Good puck moving ability.
  • Has the ability to deflect pucks out to stop play.
  • Very calm in his crease.
  • Doesn’t flop like a fish out of water.

The Bad with Bernier:

  • Not aggressive enough.
  • Injuries may be a concern.
  • Let’s in the first goal too early.
  • Didn’t know who Nelson Mandela was (sorry…I had to)

These are some points I notice when I watch Mr. Berns play. Every goalie has their soft spots, even the best goalies of all time were left with weaknesses, but, in order to be the best, you must overcome adversity, learn from your mistakes and be consistent. But he’s young and has lots of time to improve those aspects. Oh what do I know? Anybody got a chart on Bernier that determines whether he should be a starter or backup in this league?

Well Leafs Nation, I’ve given you a little bit of Bernier from last season and so far this season from my viewpoint and the numbers are there for you as well (You’re welcome). Which leads me to ask you, who is Jonathan Bernier? Today, Bernier is a good goalie on a mediocre team, who will continue to improve, be a leader on this team and be our man moving forward, or backwards, depending on how you want to look at it. Doesn’t bother me if you disagree, many have with my assessments, but you’d be stupid to disagree with these two men who know a thing or two about the goaltender:

“David was very aggressive on this back at the beginning of last year as soon as the lockout was ended. I don’t blame him. This is a good young goalie.” – Dean Lombardi

“He’s the real deal. He’s really highly regarded by us. He’s not only a great goalie but he’s a great person. They’re going to love him there.” – Bill Randford

Even though a big portion of this fan base, including myself, want Dave Nonis gone immediately, I think we can all thank him for pulling the trigger on this deal. Bernier will not turn out to be a Vezina winning goalie (I hope I’m wrong), but once this team turns out to be legitimate in a few years, he may be that goalie who isn’t flashy but just good enough to steal a few games and make the important save when needed, kind of like Corey Crawford. My point is, there’s no reason to give up on Bernier yet, he’s still a young goalie that will continue to grow as a player and a person. That’s not saying he should be locked up for 7 years at $5mil+. Just pointing out, he deserves another chance, just not a full commitment.

Hey, that being said, maybe, just maybe one day he’ll carry the Leafs to a 14th Stanley Cup! Sorry, I was just day dreaming a little, or did I foretell the future? You tell me Leafs nation: Is Jonathan Bernier the goalie this team needs? Will he get the long-term extension he hopes for? Or will management surprise us once again and acquire a different goalie? Why? Because we all know sometimes goalies can be “just okay”.

Tank you very much for reading.

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