|Bernier at practice (photo: David Sheehan)|
Goalie Jonathan Bernier has started just eight of the Kings’ 48 games last year. However, it’s not his 3-4-1 record that is holding him back from getting more playing time – it’s starter Jonathan Quick, who is posting such incredible numbers that he’s starting to generate discussions about being a possible Vezina Trophy candidate.
So, what does all this mean for Bernier? After all, by this time last year, Bernier had already made 13 starts.
After practice today, coach Darryl Sutter was asked if there’s been any message to Bernier, in terms of staying prepared?
“That’s his job,” said Sutter. “We have one season that’s done on Monday or Tuesday (referring to the upcoming break in the NHL schedule for the All Star Game). Then, another one starts a week after that. That’s the only way I look at it. I’m not about anything other than getting the max out of everybody. If the players have to stay ready and sharp in practice, that’s going to be there problem, not mine. He’s been fine though, he’s been awesome. What more do you want? Obviously he probably wants to play more. But, it’s about winning games right now. We’re in a playoff battle. When he goes in, he better look at like it’s game seven.”
Do you have a rough plan for the goalie rotation?
“I think everybody that has an ace does that or tries to. But, very seldom does that hold. Especially in a year where our team gets a seven day break. So, that’s what you have to try and manage. Quite honestly, we have 32 games left after the break and we have six back to backs and a lot of road games. So, you have to think that he’s going to play more than he did in the first 50 (games).”
Last year, Bernier had a 5-8 record at this point and in five of those games he gave up four or more goals. In a previous interview, Bernier told us that it took him the first half of the season to feel comfortable in Los Angeles (interview here). One would have to agree with his assessment too, considering he posted a 6-0-3 record after the All Star break, including three shutouts.
Can he do it again?