Death Valley Episode III: The Leafpire Strikes Back.
As the Leafs play the third game of their Death Valley road trip, their third game in the past four nights, Jonathan Bernier makes his return to Los Angeles.
The Jonathan Bernier trade from LA to Toronto might just be one of those rare instances where both teams did pretty well.
On one side, the Leafs now have Jonathan Bernier. After starting the season splitting games with James Reimer, Bernier comes into tonight’s game ranked 10th among NHL goalies in games played (49), tied for ninth in wins (25), tied for fifth in save percentage (.926), and third in saves (1501). The Leafs got a great goalie and they’re getting a lot of mileage out of him. We can debate whether or not the Leafs needed him because they already have James Reimer, but Bernier’s results have been undeniable so far.
If we want to talk irony, Ben Scrivens currently leads the NHL in save percentage (.934). Many scoffed at Scrivens early season success, citing the Kings’ supposedly bulletproof defence. “The Professor” followed that criticism up by setting the NHL record for saves in a shutout with 59 saves FOR THE FREAKING OILERS! In fact, Scrivens’ Oilers’ save percentage (.938) is up from his Kings’ save percentage (.931).
Since the deal, the Kings have parlayed Scrivens into a third round pick from Edmonton (which is pretty much a second round pick) and Matt Frattin was one of the pieces the Kings dealt in order to get Marian Gaborik.
Methinks both teams like what they have.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS LINEUP
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Joffrey Lupul – Nazem Kadri – David Clarkson
Mason Raymond – Nikolai Kulemin – Troy Bodie
Paul Ranger – Jay McClement – Colton Orr
Carl Gunnarsson – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – Cody Franson
Tim Gleason – Morgan Rielly
Nikolai Kulemin will slide back into the third line centre slot with Peter Holland out, as we said could happen earlier. I’ve heard some say Kulemin will likely cost too much for the Leafs in the summer, which is kind of insane. He’s not bad offensively (not all that great either), responsible defensively, big, lays tons of hits, plays wing, and can play centre when needed. I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind you that David Clarkson is making $5.25 million for the next six seasons after this one. The idea that Kulemin costs too much is crap. Oh and JVR is OK woooo!
LA KINGS LINEUP
Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Justin Williams
Tyler Toffoli – Mike Richard – Jeff Carter
Dwight King – Jarret Stoll – Dustin Brown
Kyle Cifford – Trevor Lewis – Tanner Pearson
Jake Muzzin – Drew Doughty
Slava Voynov – Robyn Regehr
Willie Mitchell – Alec Martinez
You have Jeff Carter on your second line?!? Get lost, dude. That’s not fair.
Jonathan Bernier is starting for the Leafs tonight. Have I mentioned him yet in this post? I forget. Jonathan Quick is starting for the Kings. After an injury-filled start to the season and lower than usual numbers, Quick has won six straight games and has only allowed six goals over that span. The Kings are pretty hard to score on.
The game starts at 10:30pm eastern on TSN. The Leafs don’t have another game that starts later than 7:30pm for the rest of the regular season. This will likely change once they reach the Stanley Cup Final.