Jonathan Bernier made 36 saves and Phil Kessel had a goal and two assists as the Toronto Maple Leafs beat up on the Nashville Predators 4-0 on Thursday night. Instead of regurgitating what happened, you can watch the highlights below and follow that up with my thoughts on the game.
3 starts into his first season as a Toronto Maple Leaf, I’m quite confident in saying that Jonathan Bernier might not just be the greatest Leafs goaltender of all time, but maybe the best ever to patrol the blue paint. They should probably call up their engraver and let him know that Mr. Bernier will be the one receiving the Vezina, so he can get a head start. He can tentatively write him in for the Hart too while he’s at it.
Seriously though, Jonathan Bernier has been everything that the Maple Leafs could have possibly hoped for and more when they traded for him in the offseason. The Leafs were once again heavily outshot, but managed to capitalize on their chances while Bernier stood tall for his first shutout in blue and white.
Fenwick Is Not Happy
Despite what many narrow-minded fans will insist, a team’s Fenwick strongly correlates to their results in the long-term. As a Leafs fan that has the mental capacity to understand these things, the Leafs early season trend of being thoroughly outshot is a troubling one. Despite the aforementioned greatness of Jonathan Bernier, he won’t be able to do it every night, and this is one ugly looking Fenwick Chart (via the awesome extraskater.com)
That’s uglier than the Edmonton Oilers. A win is a win, but the Leafs were thoroughly outplayed everywhere but on the scoreboard (and I suppose in net). The Leafs poor showing in the Fenwick department may have something to do with missing two of their better possession forwards, but that’s just excuse making. This is bad, and the wins are going to dry up if it keeps on going this way.
JVR & Kessel <3
James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel are magical. Their ability to be so very effective while being dragged down by the $21-million dead weight otherwise known as Tyler Bozak is beyond impressive. Together they are a terrific blend of size, speed, and skill that seem to get better playing together with every game. How’s Luke Schenn doing Philly?
If JVR and Kessel are ever given the opportunity to play with a centre that has even 75% of their talent and ability, the Leafs first line could become a force to be reckoned with. The Leafs wouldn’t even need to make a move for it to happen as they have two perfectly capable, and better centreman already on the roster in Dave Bolland and Nazem Kadri.
Kadri is unlikely to get the assignment because Randy Carlyle hates him, so that leaves Bolland. While Bolland is no first line centre, he is significantly more effective than Tyler Bozak, so I guess he could be the Leafs. Please Randy, let it happen!
Please Be Okay Cody Franson
The last thing a struggling Leafs blue line needs right now is one of their top-2 defenseman on the sidelines for a significant period of time. The Leafs d-men have struggled mightily early, and taking away Franson, even in the short-term would exacerbate that problem, and probably wouldn’t help to much with the whole getting heavily outshot thing either.