Welcome back the real Jonathan Bernier.
Tonight, the Maple Leafs take it to the Coyotes in the desert. All pressure on a youngster in goal Louis Domingue, who ultimately stole the show (and the win) for Arizona.
The Leafs played perhaps even better than they did Saturday evening against Los Angeles, but were in much more control than they were in Denver last night, a game in which the club scores seven goals.
James van Riemsdyk gets the visitors going, sniping in a shot on the power play, but then we see the old "Sleepwalker" return in the Toronto crease to allow two goals in a mere 10-12 seconds on very harmless looking plays. So just like that, after the Leafs draw first blood, seconds later they find themselves trailing...?! How?
Toronto again takes over play in the later stages of the second period, had a goal immediately disallowed but then keep up the pressure and get the tying goal. My take on the goal that Shawn Matthias thought he scored, perhaps Mike Babcock and the Leafs could have won the challenge if Matthias didn't lean his shoulder into Domingue. There was a slight push from the back-checking Coyote, but then you see Matthias unnecessarily lower his body into the young net minder. No goal was the right call, and that was just a play not made by a hard nosed winger who just doesn't have the scoring touch. I like Matthias' game and hockey sense, but he just isn't a goal scorer.
Then comes the third period, where I think the only real shot on goal by Arizona beats Bernier cleanly from the blue line. Another shot that needs to be stopped by an NHL goaltender. But the save isn't made and despite all the close calls down the stretch, Jonathan Bernier finds himself (and worse his team) in the loss column.
Now tonight I would have loved to see Antoine Bibeau get his first NHL start, especially in a back-to-back situation. So why didn't the youngster get his first NHL opportunity? I would like to know why. I guess I need to listen to the Leafs post game but I don't immediately have access to Toronto sports radio from Chicago. Arizona gave the start in goal to one of their kids, why couldnt have Babcock done the same with Bibeau?
The bottom line is that the Leafs continue to play solid hockey and put themselves in position to win on most nights. Some tough ones, including tonight slipped away, but the direction of the club is getting brighter.
In my opinion, it is just going to be very tough the rest of the way to watch them keep finding ways to lose because the only option in net (it seems, sorry Bibeau) happens to be someone who just doesn't seem to want to fight enough to help his team win.
There are two types of goaltenders in the NHL today and they are either the aggressive challengers or the positional puck trackers. In the old days, they were either the butterfly or stand up goaltenders, but in the current NHL all goaltenders are butterfly and are big dudes. I still do not know which type of goaltender Bernier is. He does make a lot of stand up saves, but that could be the laziness in him showing at times or just lack of fight. He sure isn't the aggressive challenger like his old counterpart Jonathan Quick in LA, or Marc-Andre Fleury in Pittsburgh, Pekka Rinne in Nashville and Corey Crawford in Chicago.
Bernier also isn't the positional puck tracker either because he always seems to lose track of the puck and fails to get himself back into position like the game winning goal he allowed tonight and a couple of the goals allowed in Denver. I would think he is more like the positional puck tracker but is weak in all those intangibles which goalies like Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist and Ben Bishop excel in and rely on to be successful.
Shame on the LA Kings for getting shut out by Bernier. Weak sauce!