Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
The Toronto Maple Leafs came into the season knowing full well that they had two goaltenders capable of starting games in the National Hockey League. It is an opening goaltending battle that the players will decide with their play throughout the season.
When Randy Carlyle announced that James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier would each start one of the Leafs first two games, it was somewhat expected that one of them would clearly make a case for starting game number 3. The worst (but really best) case scenario came to light for the Leafs when both goalies were fantastic in their season debuts.
Reimer, starting against the Montreal Canadiens in the first game of the season gave up 3 goals, but was peppered with over 40 shots, and was the victim of numerous egregious break downs by the Maple Leafs blue line. While not perfect, there was not much more that could have been asked from the young netminder in his first start of the season.
The following night Bernier was given the chance to make his season debut, and after seeing Reimer throw his chips on the table, he went all in with a spectacular performance in the Leafs 3-1 victory. Bernier was instrumental in allowing the Leafs to kill off 6 of 7 penalties against, even stopping a penalty shot from Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.
Two games, two victories, and two sublime performances from their goaltenders. Not much to go on for Mr. Carlyle in picking his starter for the home opener on Saturday night. Should Bernier be rewarded for his marginally better performance? Should Reimer be punished for his team’s somewhat shaky defensive play in front of him?
In Support of Optimus Reim:
Reimer had a very good game against Montreal. He did give up 3 goals, but the only one he could be “blamed” for was still a breakaway that occurred due to an awful turnover by Jake Gardiner. Bernier may have had a slightly better game on Wednesday night against Philly, but was it really that much better?
With his status as the incumbent starter, that oh I don’t know almost single handedly dragged the Maple Leafs back to the playoffs for the first time since before Lockout 1.0, you would think that this is his job to lose, and his performance on Tuesday night certainly wasn’t one that loses you a job.
He’s the good guy…you can’t just usurp Optimus Reim from his spot on top. He’s the leader of the autobots for God’s sake. He doesn’t just deserve to be given the start on Saturday night against Ottawa, it’s his RIGHT.
In Support Of MegaJon:
Jonathan Bernier played better. It’s plain and simple, he was told that he would be given a chance to start as long as he proved that he was better. He sat and watched James Reimer perform well despite giving up 3 goals and said “I can do better”. The next night in Philly? He did just that.
While he wasn’t a victim of as many defensive breakdowns as his rival goaltender, Bernier was forced to play behind a team that didn’t seem all that interested in mundane things like skating, and getting the puck out of their own zone. This led to 7 Philadelphia power plays, which led to the only goal against Mr. Bernier, and it could have been oh so much worse.
If Bernier has to ride the pine I’m sure he’ll understand, he’s a professional, but what kind of message does it send? Sure we told you that if you were better you’d play, but we don’t want to hurt James’ feelings, he’s a sensitive guy ya know. Garbage. Bernier deserves start and start he should.
MegaJon and the decepticons may not be the nicest dudes, but you know what? They’re way cooler than the autobots. Speaking of autobots, after watching our boy MegaJon in net, it’s become clear to me that Reims plays like his namesake, as in robotically. Bernier is better, and nicer to watch. The end.
All joking aside, it’s a tough decision for Randy Carlyle, although thinking rationally, I imagine the Leafs will continue with a game to game rotation until someone has a bad game, after which the “hot hand” will get a couple of starts in a row until they to are less than spectacular. So that means Reimer is probably getting the start in my books, but who the hell really knows.