Jonathan Bernier put in a steady performance for the Toronto Maple Leafs in his exhibition debut, and it left fans with the idea he may be as advertised.
Bernier stopped 14 of 15 shots in 27:04 minutes of action and was replaced by Drew MacIntyre in Philadelphia’s 3-2 shootout win.
The Flyers managed just five shots on goal, but Bernier’s athleticism was on display as he was forced into a couple of quality saves, one with his left pad off a deflection and another during a scramble.
Former Leaf defenceman Luke Schenn was able to beat Bernier at 19:42 of the first on a shot from the point.
Asked about his first start at the Air Canada Centre as a Leaf, Bernier took it all in stride.
“I try to not make it a big deal and just come here and work hard. That’s that mindset that I need to have and just make sure I’m focused on my game and not the other stuff.
Head Coach Randy Carlyle was pleased with Bernier’s performance.
“I thought Bernier was solid in the nets. The one goal that went in actually went off our defenceman that caught him moving to the puck and you can’t fault him there.”
Leafs hope to have struck gold with Bernier
If history is an indication then the Toronto Maple Leafs have found themselves a steal in goaltender Jonathan Bernier.
Quebec has been a factory for producing great French Canadian goalies — Jacques Plante, Bernie Parent, Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur are all in the Hall of Fame (Brodeur will be once he retires).
Toronto arguably enjoyed their greatest success during the early 90’s when Félix Potvin (another French Canadian goalie) served as their No. 1 goalie, so there’s no surprise why Bernier has many Leaf fans excited for the upcoming season.
Although he’s only appeared in 62 NHL games, Bernier appears to be the real deal.
The native of Laval, Quebec, was drafted 11th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in 2006 and was projected to be the Kings ‘number one goalie of the future.
Bernier made his debut during the 2007-2008 season and record one win in four appearances, while posting a 4.03 goals against average (GAA).
Unfortunately for Bernier, the Kings had another talented goaltender in their system in Jonathan Quick who played 44 games in 2008-2009 season and emerged as Kings’ number one the following year.
Just two seasons later the Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils in six games to win their first Stanley Cup and signed Quick a 10-year, $58 million contract extension.
After signing Quick to the massive deal, it was clear that Bernier’s future with the Kings was coming to an end.
To acquire Bernier, Toronto traded forward Matt Frattin, goalie Ben Scrivens, and a conditional second-round pick in either 2014 or 2015, a relatively inexpensive price for the highly regarded goaltender.
After the trade he agreed to a two-year $5.8 million contract with the Leafs.
However, Bernier has not been appointed the Leafs’ No. 1 goalie as of yet. Although the job appears to be his to lose at this point, he will still have to outplay last season’s number one James Riemer to earn it.