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 If there were, then everyone would follow that blueprint to a fault until it became outdated and someone ultimately came up with a new one to chase.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.
December 15 2015 10:53PM
On this episode, the guys talk Stamkos, the Pacific division, Leafs deals, and Steve has an announcement.
December 15 2015 09:18PM
For the first time in a week, the Leafs saw themselves playing actual hockey games against actual NHL teams. In a nine-goal affair, the Torotonians came out on the losing side of this one, falling 5-4 in overtime to the Stamka Bay L91ghtning.
Jonathan Bernier has been one of the best AHL goalies this season, but it's unfortunate that his success hasn't been able to translate to the top level. Bernier registered just 22 saves on 27 shots, still trailing Garret Sparks and 62 other NHL goaltenders in the win column this year.
December 15 2015 08:13PM
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the midst of a nailbiter at the moment, about to head to overtime against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Battle for Steven Stamkos. In the meantime, two of the goals have special significance to Tyler Bozak, who picked up his 100th goal and 250th point.