Today’s 5 observations on current events in the National Hockey League.
1. Bernier Is Living Up To The Hype
When the Leafs acquired Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings during the 2013 offseason, it was assumed him and incumbent James Reimer would spend the first few months of the NHL season battling back and forth for the starters position. So far, Bernier is running away with the station.
It’s naive to assume this goaltending controversy is officially over. Only five games have been played. That being said, Bernier has built up a comfortable cushion as the team’s clear cut lead man between the pipes.
Jonathan Bernier of Laval, Quebec, proudly projects a 0.85 GAA and 0.974 SV% through three and a half games played. His game totals are few, but it’s the way he’s doing it – Bernier looks cool, calm and collected in net. He looks like a real pro.
James Reimer will get another chance to play at some point this season. When he gets in the cage, he’ll have to be lights out or this contest is one step closer to being over.
Reimer has taken a lot of heat for certain perceived flaws in his game. It’s often said he has poor rebound control, a shaky glove hand, and inadequate puck playing abilities. Other than that, yeah, he’s not bad.
Possessing three significant flaws can hinder a goaltender’s reputation. Think about the established greats in the NHL, and consider how many flaws they have. You may come up with one, or even two, but three flaws is significant.
So far this season, Bernier’s rebound control has been his most astounding asset. And, his glove hand looks incredible too. Plus, he’s not bad at playing the puck. Not bad at all.
2. Kings GM Dean Lombardi Not Happy He Had To Trade Bernier
When Jonathan Bernier’s contract expired at the end of last season, the Los Angeles Kings were kind of handcuffed. Bernier’s days as a backup were over, thus, he requested a trade and Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi obliged.
In this very candid article by ESPN‘s Pierre LeBrun, Lombardi provides some insightful quotes regarding his former backup. Here are a few that really stand out, however, the entire article is worth a good read.
“I give Nonis a lot of credit. A week after he got the (GM) job (in Toronto), he was all over Bernier.” – Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi
“We almost had a deal at the beginning of last season, but I was really nervous about Quick coming back from his back surgery,” – Kings GM Dean Lombardi
Once again, especially if you’re a Leaf fan, you will enjoy Pierre LeBrun’s article entitled, “Trading Bernier still bothers Kings’ GM”
3. Bruins Toughness Doesn’t Always Work In Their Favour
On most nights, especially against more than willing Eastern Conference rivals, the Bruins flex their muscle when needed, and opponents oblige, or get rattled. The Colorado Avalanche had neither reaction last evening at TD Garden.
At 19:09 of the 2nd period, Milan Lucic participated in one of his patented after the whistle goal mouth scrums – his victim, Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog. The pesky Avs youngster played it cool. Well, cool enough to not get eaten by the big bear in Bruins’ black and gold. The result of the scrum – a 10 minute misconduct for Milan Lucic. Justified or not, it happened, and it probably costed the Bruins the game.
Without Lucic on the ice, let’s face it, the Boston Bruins became less of an offensive threat. Big number 17 has evolved into a goal scorer and generator of scoring chances. For ten minutes while attempting a comeback, the Bruins greatly missed his presence.
On this night, Lucic’s actions may have hurt the team, but on most occasions, his aggressive behaviour works in the Bruins’ favour. I guess nothing is perfect, and in this case, the B’s are happy to take the little bit of bad because the good is far more significant.
4. Rough Ride In California For The Rangers
The New York Rangers first California contest went well. They beat the Los Angeles Kings 3-1 at Staples Center – Brad Richards scored 2 goals, a start to the season he desperately needed. Then, California took over.
The Rangers were pounded 9-2 by the San Jose Sharks then devoured 6-0 by the Anaheim Ducks. Ouch. Allowing 15 goals in six periods of hockey is bush league. What makes the recent blowouts even more puzzling is that the Rangers fancy themselves a defensive hockey club.
It’s a start they’d like to forget. The bright side is, things can only get better for the Blueshirts moving forward, I think. But you have to wonder how they respond if they get blown out of the water in St. Louis tomorrow night against the Blues. Another monumental pummelling would be pretty legendary. I can’t think of many NHL teams taking three straight beatings and I’m guessing it’s been well over a decade since such a streak has occurred. Maybe Ottawa Senators Season 1?
What makes it weird with the Rangers, is that head coach Alain Vigneault is new to the team but not new to the league. Typically, a coach is chastised for a string of brutal losses, but Alain is so new, it’s not fair to blame him. And he’s an NHL vet, so you can’t say he’s not ready for the NHL. He coached in a Stanley Cup final less than three years ago.
At this stage, firing the coach not only seems unjust, also impossible. So, they better hold their own tomorrow in St. Louis or things are going to get real awkward real fast for the New York Rangers and they won’t have a coach to blame.
5. If You Love Hockey You Must Follow Kevin Paul Dupont
Let’s get serious for a second. If you have heard of The Hockey Daily you probably already follow @GlobeKDP. However, just in case you don’t, I’m glad to put you onto one of hockey’s funniest, most talented journalists. His Twitter persona is a regular source of entertainment and insight. Here is a small example of what you get from Dupont on the regular:
Ovechkin averaging 8 shots a game. But then, he does play both wings, same time.
— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) October 11, 2013