Eight short months ago, James Reimer was Toronto’s starting netminder.
Three short days ago, Jonathan Bernier had all but taken the gig from Reimer. After half a season of mostly good back and forth efforts from both stoppers. Bernier made five straight starts, with the fifth coming at home against the Rangers. In arguably his worst effort as a Leaf, Bernier allowed five goals on 32 shots and got the hook in a 7-1 drubbing.
But one game does not make a goalie controversy, right? Randy Carlyle shrugged Bernier’s stinker off and gave him a sixth consecutive start Tuesday against the Isles.
Then, this happened:
Later, this happened:
A goalie can get away with one fluky goal in a game here and there. When it happens twice, red flags are raised. When it happens twice after a game in which said goalie was pulled, and said goalie’s team loses by a goal plus an empty-netter, it’s hard not to worry.
At the very least, James Reimer has earned himself a start or three. It’s not a full-blown controversy in Toronto yet but, while Reimer isn’t about to become the starter again, Bernier may have played his way back into a timeshare. Is that such a bad thing? The pair played best when splitting games 50/50 and it’s possible Bernier, never an NHL No. 1 before this recent stretch, is simply fatiguing.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin