The clip this week comes courtesy of SomeHockeyVideos
Let me preface this short article with how I think Jonathan Bernier has been even better than advertised in his short time in Toronto. When you consider all the words spoken about the former Los Angeles Kings goaltender in the summer, Bernier coming in and not being a letdown is actually quite remarkable. I always said that the deal confused me, but if Dave Nonis felt Bernier was going to be a star than screw the fact if the timing is right and get him when he is available. Through his opening 15 games this season Bernier has a sparkling .934 save percentage. He is certainly showing that he is a special goaltender.
Saying that, there have been moments like the clip above where Bernier’s has demonstrated an ability to lose focus for the briefest of moments. The 25 year old Bernier carries with him the reputation of being fundamentally sound. A big reason many speculated that he would usurp the ‘battler’ James Reimer from the Leafs crease. However, against the Nashville Predators on Thursday night Bernier once again had a lapse in concentration allowing the Predators to kill off any chance the Leafs had to perhaps mount a comeback. Yes, Bernier’s lapse did come after he made some big saves, but goals like that are always harder to overcome.
It’s not an issue that is lost on Bernier as he had this to say following the game:
Bernier on ugly 4th goal tonight: "I've got to make sure I'm focused the whole game"
— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) November 22, 2013
The frustrating part is that the goal against Carolina above, the late tying goal against the New Jersey Devils from earlier in November and the marker on Thursday all came in the third period. In fact, the first two lapses occurred with less than 5 minutes to go in the game. While the Leafs managed to still walk away with both points against the Devils, they gifted a point to a team that they may very well be competing against for a post-season Wild Card berth later in the year. Against the Hurricanes, the Bernier miscue cost the Leafs at least one point.
This is Bernier’s first season as a non-backup. Mistakes like these are what happens when a workload in increased. Hopefully he can use them as something to learn from. Letting in deflating late goals in October or November is one thing, allowing them in April and May is another animal altogether. Through the opening 15 games Bernier’s earned the right to get the benefit of the doubt. That credit won’t last forever though.