Jonathan Bernier

Watched the Dallas feed tonight, obviously, since that was the only feed available. The Dallas announcers remarked, with admiration, on the Kings' system of bringing the center back down low in the defensive zone, and how much more difficult that made it on on Dallas forwards. They also used the phrase, "when you play the L.A. Kings" more than once, and didn't follow it with "you can take the night off" or something similar. And they were impressed with Jonathan Bernier.

Me, I was nervous. Like, playoff game nervous. Jack Johnson's first game in '07 nervous. Bernier admitted he was nervous, too. Terry Murray couldn't tell.

As for the game itself, I expect someone will say it had a "playoff atmosphere." The Kings looked back on their heels to me. Stats show that they did a lot of things right (few giveaways, more hits, decisive face-off advantage), but I don't think I can remember a single Kings scoring chance after their first period goal. Dallas seemed on the verge of scoring for most of the last forty minutes, and probably deserved a better fate. But instead the Kings managed to turn a one-goal performance into a win.

You'd think this was one of those "goalie steals one for the team" games, but where are the highlight reel saves? Where's the clip of impossible recoveries and the Stars peppering him with shots and getting turned away as the breathless announcers ratchet up their play-by-play freak-out (e.g. "e-NOR-mous SAVE!" "I don't believe what I just saw!" etc.)? There wasn't any of that. All there was, was:

[shot] Shloop. [whistle]. [shot] Shloop. [whistle]. [shot] Shloop. [whistle]. Shloop is the sound of Bernier sucking up pucks. The announcers, I think, were starting to get exasperated as time after time after time the puck would hit Bernier in the chest and stick. What's wrong with these Dallas shooters? Don't they know not to shoot where the goalie ISN'T?

Positioning, and rebound-control.

It's really really boring. And if you're the other team, it causes gnashing of teeth. Pucks hit him in the logo because he's in the right place. And there's no rebound, so, sorry, the play is over, go back to the bench, next!

And, you know, maybe I was too quick to dismiss the "playoff atmosphere" descriptor, because that feeling -- the feeling of a goalie sucking up pucks and everything hitting him in the chest -- that's a familiar playoff game feeling, when the other team's goalie has your number, even as the bastard doesn't really seem to be doing anything. It messes with your mind, because it's not just that the other goalie is good, it's that maybe you suck, or you wouldn't be hitting him on the crest every ^%&$^#@*! time. (The Kings also did a good job of letting him see the shots, which helps.) Bernier's positioning, his fundamentals, his conservation of movement, etc., have all been remarked upon since he was in juniors. Kings fans have heard about it so much it now just goes in one ear and out the other.

But that's what it looks like.

Fifteen months ago, when Jonathan Quick was called up from Manchester, much was made of Quick's superior save percentage (their numbers were, if memory serves, virtually identical, but Quick had an advantage in save%, something like .920 to .905). At the time, someone smarter than me pointed out, yeah that's true, but then Quick faces six more shots per game than Bernier, so his SV% has to be higher. For a second, I was stumped. Why would Manchester allow more shots with Quick than with Bernier? Then I caught up: rebound control. Quick faces six more shots because he's causing the shots by giving up the rebounds. Bernier, on the other hand, the shots seem to hit him and stick.

"[Modano/Richards/etc.] shoots -- save, Bernier." [tweet] Grrrr.

It's not sexy stuff, really, except for the result. And this is why I am so looking forward to 1a and 1b in the Fall. It's also why if I'm Terry Murray, Bernier starts again on Sunday.

2009 - Jonathan Bernier 1 65 1 0 1 0.92 30 29 .967 0