Jonathan Bernier allows five in last game of conditioning stint

Photo Credit: Christian Bonin /

Statistical regression has a habit of coming back to haunt players, but it’s rare that it happens all so suddenly. Jonathan Bernier’s start to his conditioning stint went drastically better than expected as he became the first Marlies goaltender to post three consecutive shutouts. But in his fourth and final appearance the Bernier that showed up was reminiscent of the one that the Leafs were trying to mentally mend.

In a fashion that’s become stereotypical of late, Bernier was beaten by the first shot of the game, this time coming from Comets defenceman Jordan Subban. It wasn’t an awful goal to give up by any means; high percentage, high powered, and highly targeted, but its situations like this that have lead to slippery slopes in his games with the Leafs this year.

Sure enough, the struggles continued throughout the game. While he managed to finish the first period unscathed, Bernier allowed goals from Alex Friesen and Mike Zalewski before the second was even two minutes through. Friesen’s goal, a wrist shot from between the defensive faceoff dots, was slightly screened by Stuart Percy while Zalewski’s had no obstruction and was just a simple backhand. The goals came after a weird stretch of Bernier making atypical moves to try to make saves; even bringing back the double pad stack shortly before Friesen’s goal.

Luckily for Bernier, his teammates responded with goal support. To add on top of Matt Frattin’s first-period backhand, Eric Faille scored his first goal as a Marlie a few minutes after Utica’s pair, and William Nylander closed out the period with his 14th of the season. This tied up the game, and when Mark Arcobello wired home his ninth on an early third-period powerplay, it looked like the Marlies just had to park the bus and wait the rest of the game out.

Things didn’t quite work out that way. John Negrin finished the work of the previous mentioned Subban with exactly a minute to go in the game, forcing overtime. The extra frame was very brief; almost immediately after it started, Friesen found himself on another rush, and while William Nylander did his best play last defenceman back, Friesen easily slipped the puck through Bernier’s five-hole to win the game by a score of 5-4.

Ultimately, Bernier’s conditioning stint looks pretty good when totaled up. Stopping 91 of 96 shots gives him a save percentage of 0.948 over the four games, which is more than most could easily ask for. The process is the most alarming part though. Given the mental nature of this stint, you’d imagine that you would like the goals and saves to be distributed evenly, or at the very least, have the goals come at the start. Now, there’s a very real chance that any positive mojo gained over the past week could have gone to waste.

For the Leafs, there’s only one way to find out. They’ll have to play him and find out if he can shake this sour note off, or if his NHL woes are bound to continue. That opportunity could come as soon as Tuesday, when the Leafs take on the Tampa Bay Lighting. As for the Marlies, they now get two days off before starting a northeastern road trip in Binghamton on Wednesday night.

  • Gary Empey

    TOR Frattin, (6) (Leivo, Bailey), 14:51 (PP)

    TOR Faille, (1) (Findlay, Loov), 3:51

    TOR Nylander, (14) (Panik), 19:33

    TOR Arcobello, (9) (Percy, Nylander), 3:48 (PP)

  • Gary Empey

    And we should what sit eims when he returns as well???
    So we can once again coddle Bernier and give him another chance at the net…???

    Now thats cold……Reims unlike Bernier who from day one of his coming here was bascially handed the Starter job..Reims has earned the net this season and shouldn’t have to step aside and give the choosen one the net…..

    Bernier has had far to much leaway and has been given chance after chance to take the starter job once and for all, but has not even come close…..

    I said it was a mistake to sign him to another 2 year contract with another rasie yet…when he had not done anything anywhere great over his stint here to earn it….

    Reims and Sparks would make a great team and with the team that now is playing in front of them would be quite something…..

      • STAN

        Excuse me…a bad game your kidding right?? I think your smoking that funny stuff again…

        Because he has won 3 of 4 games? this game is just as bad as in the big boys playing field that he left to get his confidence back… what I should be praising him and patting him on the back??

        He needed to do that upstairs with the big boys not down on the farm with the kids….

        So sorry if I don’t sound impressed….

        If Bernier gets his act together it won’t be because HE did it, but all the coddling he has been given…enough already…either he get’s it together and do what he’s been paid to do, or crawl home with his tail between his legs…

        at least Reims took it on himself to fight for what he wants or go down trying, never was given all this crap that Bernier is getting it’s, shameful how Bernier continues to get chance after chance to get his game back, but again when you make the mistake of giving out another contract with a raise what else is there?

        • TGT23

          I’m smoking the “funny stuff”?

          You can’t even admit Reimer had two consecutive bad seasons with below league average numbers even when presented with the stats. You see what you WANT to see. Always have.

          Even presented with facts and evidence you create make-believe narratives that make Bernier, who earned his job the last two seasons, coddled. While poor James, who was terrible, is the returning hero!

          Give me a break. Your narratives are weak.

          I mean, you actually say you were telling everyone it was a mistake to re-sign Bernier as if you knew this implosion was coming. You didn’t. Though, you hoped it would.

          You just don’t like Bernier and want your fan-favourite to play more. You didn’t want Bernier back in Toronto, not because he isn’t the better goalie, but because he is. And you know, over the long-haul, just like the last two season’s have proven, he’ll win his job back.

          You want to talk about coddling? James Reimer’s numbers the previous two seasons were in the bottom third (or lower) of the league. He should have been sent to the AHL to get his game together.

          You lost your mind when Reimer had ONE or TWO good games in a row. Coming here ranting about how amazing he is and how he’s the best!…

          But, anyone who does the same for Bernier, they are on drugs… clearly…

          You’re a joke.

          • TGT23

            Over very similar careers in terms of play time, the two goalies have been almost identical. So to say that one is definitively better than the other would be foolish both for you and for @reimerfan

  • magesticRAGE

    i was at the game today. it was a fun game. i just wish him luck when he comes back with the LEafs. I hope he gets his confidence back and helps out the team to a win whenever that may be. sparks and reimer have been good together. excited for tuesday game.

    • TGT23

      A Subban, no less. That’s one playing for the Canadiens, Bruins, and Canucks organizations, in case anyone wasn’t keeping track.

      Why do I have that feeling in the pit of my stomach that we’re going to be haunted by Subban’s for the next 15 years? Just… everywhere we turn a Subban will be in the way.

  • TGT23

    There is no sense arguing over who is best right now really.Bernier if he plays on Tuesday night will be giving everyone the chance to assess whether he has his confidence back or not.

    If he blows it again his trade value will be nothing and his days in Toronto likely over.The game will probably be the most important one he will ever play.

    On the other side is Stamkos.He will probably want to impress his coach to be if there is any truth to the rumors.This could be very bad for Bernier as he may get lit up like a Christmas tree.

    Should be a very interesting game.