Toronto Maple Leafs Post-Game: Unlikely (Kind of) Hero Jonathan Bernier

In a night with a handful of goaltending injuries, the only one that matters to me is Garret Sparks. I’m writing this through my tears (kidding, kind of), so bear with me if I misspell anything or just start mashing the keys in agony. 

How about that Bernier, though? 

*whispers* pity point, pity point, pity point…

The Rundown

So let me start by saying: if this loss is pinned on Jonathan Bernier, then he’s finished with the team for good. 

The netminder was thrust into the game following an injury to interim starter Garret Sparks, who left the game after just half of the first period. He went on to have, in theory, a comparable game to Martin Jones – who allowed four goals on 32 shots, while Bernier would allow just three on 27 – and ultimately lost in overtime on a heartbreaking deflection by his own player. 

Every time I watch the Leafs, I’m reminded that I had my doubts about Mike Babcock – and that those doubts were probably pretty wrong. His ability to work the system to create a possession machine from a roster full of middle-tier players who are likely just a few years past their prime is impressive; if they brought the San Jose Sharks to extra minutes, they’re doing something right. 

James van Riemsdyk looked good, Leo Komarov looked good, and Peter Holland reminded fans why he’ll probably be a depth piece the club wants to hold on to in the long run. Even Bernier looked good; this game could have gone south pretty quickly, but he’s the reason they went to extra minutes. 

It’s hard to applaud a netminder for earning a team the pity point, but Bernier did his best. 

Stats

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If I have a criticism, it’s that first period. Toronto ultimately boomeranged back and used momentum to pull themselves back into the game, but that first period was slightly reminiscent of hot garbage. Best to use that as a harsh reminder; goaltending is important, but a stronger first period could have really affected this game in a big way. 

Blue Warrior

I want to call Jonathan Bernier the blue warrior (and almost want to call Garret Sparks the blue warrior for giving this team hope they can win again), but I think that Peter Holland gets this one. 

The 24 year old centre walked away from tonight’s game with a goal, an assist, three shots at Martin Jones, and nearly 20 minutes of ice time. Do I consider Peter Holland a top line guy? No. Do I even consider him top six? Not really, no. He’s got the work ethic to push the team to remain competitive with a sub-par roster, though, and that’s important in a rebuild year. 

He’s young, he’s strong, and he’s effective. I may like Peter Holland’s jaw line, but his game’s growing on me, too. 

On to the Desert

The Leafs next play the Sharks, then head on the road to Colorado. Finally, they’ll play their last game before Christmas break when they hit Arizona, where – you guessed it – I’ll be present in the lower bowl to report to you live. 

Gila River Arena is a treat, and despite what Ryan Getzlaf said, it’s got a momentum-changing atmosphere. The Coyotes have been a strong home team this year, so it should be exciting to watch them take on one of the most fascinating rebuild teams around the league. It’s my only opportunity to watch the Leafs live in 2015, so I’m taking it. 

  • jimithy

    the leafs play the kings, avalanche and coyotes not the sharks again… i don’t see him beating the kings. he always sh*ts the bed vs the kings. there may be a chance vs the avalanche and coyotes if he plays like an nhl goalie. if he plays how he’s been playing all year, it’s three straight losses.

  • jimithy

    Bernier Mandela with another terrible outing. The team clawed back and gave him a tie and of course he lets in a flukey toskala style OT gold

    And Bozak with a terrible game too

    • Jeremy Ian

      Bozak: 21 of 28 in faceoffs? 21:01 TOI, a couple of shots, an assist….Just for starters… He’s been a positive surprise this year. I was afraid he’d be a dragging anchor; he’s not. While you tear him down, he’s actually got real trade value in a team languishing at the bottom of the pile. That’s not easy to pull off.

      The guy that makes me wince sometimes is Hunwick. Maybe it’s just the minutes he has to log, but he’s slow and often caught out of position. Maybe rest him a game?

  • jimithy

    Tunnel vision seems to be the number one prerequisite in order to play for the Leafs. Reilly has to go and Gardiner should take the Gardiner and get out of town and he can take Holland and Kadri and all those other Maple walnuts with him.

  • Gary Empey

    Both Sparks and center Spaling injured.

    Boyes is the only healthy scratch available, up front.

    I can see why Corrado is a good prospect. He does need to put on some more muscle. He can make some good plays when he gets a chance. He played about 12 minutes tonight. Picked up his first assist for Toronto.

  • TGT23

    Boy I miss Reims………so sad for Sparks 🙁

    Well I guess Bernier now has his chance to run with it (not by his awesome play) but by mis-fortune.

    He made some saves, good for him but he has a hell of catch=up to do to get anywhere near NHL play again….remember if he;s been down and out like this , even if he can come back theres always that chance it can happen again just like getting injured, except injuries heal a person’s mental state is more fragil….

    He needs to either toughen up and compete with the big boy’s and earn his over inflated pay cheque or move on….

    Calling Reims get well soon, but be 110% when you do come back……

  • TGT23

    Feel terrible for Sparks… Hope he doesn’t miss too much time.

    As for Bernier. To quote Carlyle, I thought he was fine.

    Of the 8 goals he has allowed in the last two games… 6 weren’t his fault.

    3 goals by defensive breakdowns allowing someone to walk in alone. A seeing eye screened shot, a tying goal where Hunwick forgot he had to actually cover someone, and that fluke OT winner.

    So I don’t even know if he’s recovered his form or not because so much voodoo, wizardry, and B.S has happened.

    Hopefully he has regained his form and when the D mistakes are cleaned up we find him back on track.