Heading into the season, most pundits assumed that it would take a few months for the goaltending situation to settle for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They went out and acquired Jonathan Bernier to push James Reimer for starts, but it didn’t seem likely for either one to establish themselves four or five games into the season.
Yet here we are, four or five games into the season, and Bernier has not only pushed Reimer for starts, he’s pushed him out of the equation entirely. No one in Toronto is ready to say that yet. Take, for instance, coach Randy Carlyle’s comments to the CBC when asked if he was ready to cement the No. 1 spot yet:
I knew you’d ask that question because you guys are just waiting to anoint somebody as the No. 1 goalie, but this is the fourth … fifth game of the year? It’s a little early guys.
It’s a little early, sure. Yet there’s no denying the evidence that has been left out on the ice. Reimer started the Leafs’ first game while Bernier rotated in for the second contest. Toronto stuck with the platoon strategy again, naming Reimer the starter for the team’s third game against the Ottawa Senators.
He was chased in that game as the Sens torched him for four goals in a little over 30 minutes of action. At that point Beriner stepped in as the reviler, and spearheaded a dramatic come-from-behind win for the Leafs. He hasn’t looked back yet , only giving up two goals over his next two games while Reimer sat on the bench, watching the team he lead to the Stanley Cup playoffs last year go on without him.
If there was any question about who the No. 1 was as Toronto took on the Nashville Predators, there isn’t now. Bernier made 36 saves as he shutout the Preds, and it’ll take a few shaky contests at this point for him to end up in a platoon situation with Reimer again.