December 16 2015 08:32PM
Antoine Bibeau needed to have himself a great game tonight. Not because the staff was going to put pressure on him, not because the players needed his support, but for his own confidence. Bibeau looked pretty solid in his appearance that slotted in between Jonathan Bernier's shutout streak but really needed a second good showing. Tonight, he got that; at least for the first 58 minutes against the Binghamton Senators.
December 16 2015 12:14PM
It's the logical move to make. Mike Babcock today confirmed what most had already expected: that Garret Sparks, not Jonathan Bernier, would get the start in goal for the Leafs tomorrow when they host the San Jose Sharks at Air Canada Center.
Bernier, of course, has had a rough go of it this year. He's fresh off of a conditioning stint with the Toronto Marlies where he put up 3 shutouts in 4 games played, but his final start with the team saw him allow 5 goals in an overtime loss. While the hope was that Bernier would put that last start behind him and build off of what he did in his first three games for the Marlies, it didn't come to fruition last night against Tampa Bay, where Bernier allowed 5 goals on 27 shots in an overtime loss to the Bolts.
December 16 2015 11:43AM
Jonathan Bernier wasn't good but he wasn't the only one.
December 16 2015 10:03AM
Jonathan Bernier is back, and nobody is celebrating.
Bernier recently finished up a "conditioning stint" (with a heavy emphasis on those quotation marks) with the Toronto Marlies - one that started off very, very, very well before ending very badly. In his return to NHL action, Bernier got lit up for five goals on 27 shots in a 5-4 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
We know that Bernier has been at least a league average goaltender in the past, but he certainly hasn't played like one recently. Most people would assume that he will return to form, but there's always the possibility that Bernier has in fact lost his touch and won't be able to regain it.
This might be what Jonathan Bernier is now, and that's not an NHL goaltender.
December 16 2015 05:00AM
There isn't just the one single foolproof method for building a successful hockey team. If there were, then everyone would follow that blueprint to a fault until it became outdated and someone ultimately came up with a new one to chase. While the NHL may be a copycat league, if everyone's doing the exact same thing then it becomes awfully difficult to distinguish yourself from the pack. The key is to follow a couple of fundamental Do's and Don'ts. Beyond that, it's up to you to get creative.
The ultimate goal is to assemble as much talent as possible, by any means necessary. Ideally in a way that makes sense in the big picture with all of the pieces fitting together, but that only really comes into the scope after a certain point once you've already cleared a few hurdles. Spending big money on a big name from time to time can certainly put your incumbent collection of talent over the top, but the salary cap structure makes it inherently impossible to purely buy your way into success in terms of wins and losses.
That's why we see the savvy teams take a patient approach, accumulating as many draft picks and prospects as possible over a length period of time understanding that not every single one will wind up hitting. Beyond just the raw number of assets, you'll also need a couple of them to be of the very high-end variety. Those players typically come as a byproduct of a lot losing.
It's easy to sit back and tell a team to take those lumps on a nightly basis for the greater good when you're looking at it from afar, without a personal stake in the matter. It's a whole other thing to be deeply entrenched in the process and still follow through with it properly while juggling a million other extenuating factors that make it difficult to stay true to the course along the way.
Fortunately for Leafs fans, the new brain trust in Toronto appears to be fully cognizant of that, and also appears to be up to the task. While the parent club hasn't done much winning this season, you don't have to look far to see the seeds that are being planted. It's happening right in the Leafs' backyard, with the Toronto Marlies.