Maple Leaf head coach Randy Carlyle appears ready to go the entire season without “naming” a #1 goaltender. As Carlyle continued to maintain on Friday, “Competition for the position brings the best out of pro athletes” and he feels as though the #1 title could cause a goalie to become complacent.
Regardless of what Carlyle says, goaltender Jonathan Bernier has earned the #1 title and given that he’s likely to stretch his string of consecutive starts to 3 tonight against the Oilers, it’s clear that Bernier has become the go-to guy. There’s no telling if the “veteran” of 67 NHL games can maintain his solid play for the duration of the season. Barring an injury, Bernier’s hot start should be enough to earn him the majority of the starts for the foreseeable future.
The numbers don’t lie: Bernier is the first Leaf goalie since 1956 to allow fewer than four goals in his first four appearances with the team. He’s allowed just 3 goals in 3 starts and a relief appearance. He leads all NHL goaltenders (who’ve had more than one start) with a near-perfect .974 SV%. I can’t see Carlyle justifying giving Reimer a start until the Leafs play in back-to-back contests near the end of the month. On October 25th the Leafs will play in Columbus before heading back to Toronto on October 26th to host Pittsburgh. Carlyle should start Reimer against the Blue Jackets and save Bernier for the more difficult match-up against the Penguins.
It may be early on in the season but Bernier is certainly looking like the best goaltender the Leafs have had since the days of Felix Potvin, Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour. Here’s hoping Bernier can continue living up to the hype.
Be sure to subscribe to the Toronto Maple Leafs Examiner email list, by clicking "subscribe" at the top of the page, to be notified first when a new article is posted! It's absolutely FREE to subscribe and a great way to stay up-to-date on Maple Leaf news throughout the season.
If you have any comments or questions please feel free to leave them in the comment section below or send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.