Jonathan Bernier will be in goal tonight when the Toronto Maple Leafs host the New Jersey Devils. Toronto is playing in back-to-back games and will be going at it against the Boston Bruins less than 24 hours after tonight’s contest with New Jersey.
That means that James Reimer will get the start against the B’s. Reading between the lines here, there’s an interesting implication from Toronto’s coaching staff. Back-to-back games almost always cause a team to go with a goaltender rotation, but it’s neat to note the preference.
Jonathan Bernier starts for the #leafs vs. New Jersey tonight.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) November 8, 2013
The Leafs haven’t played in six days. They dropped a 4-0 decision to the scorching Vancouver Canucks last Saturday, but haven’t seen any action since then. Clearly both netminders are rested, and Toronto could have started either on tonight against the ailing Devils. It was Reimer in net against the Canucks last weekend, and it’ll be Reimer in net again when Toronto takes on the Bruins this Saturday.
It’s clear at this juncture which goaltender the Leafs are leaning on in the tougher games.
Bernier hasn’t played poorly this season. He was traded to Toronto from the Los Angeles Kings to push Reimer for playing time. One could argue that it’s more of a 1A and 1B situation (and there’s nothing wrong with that) but facts are facts.
The Leafs are playing Reimer against the tougher opponents right now and appear slightly more comfortable with him in net. Bernier has started in more games this season (10), so it’s odd to see the Leafs roll with Reimer in this situation.
The duo has played through a platoon system all year though, with Reimer having racked up seven starts so perhaps this is to be expected. Neither one of them has given any quarter in the battle to be the true No. 1 goalie in Toronto, and the high level of competition in net has elevated the Leafs to some unexpected heights.
Will one of these guys eventually get on a roll, forcing Toronto to bench the other? Or will we continue to see a nearly even split between Reimer and Bernier this year? It was an interesting season at the beginning of the season, and that hasn’t changed one bit through the first several weeks of action.