When the Toronto Maple Leafs take on the Ottawa Senators in the latest edition of the ‘Battle of Ontario,’ they need to make the executive decision in sticking with Jonathan Bernier as their No. 1 goaltender. So far this season, Bernier has split time with fellow goalie James Reimer, and it has been relatively tough for either of them to find their groove, until now that is.
When the Leafs took on the Dallas Stars on Thursday night in Toronto, Bernier was the only reason the Leafs stayed in the game at all. He faced a total of 50 shots as the Leafs were once again badly outplayed in that regard, but still found a way to win in overtime. When a goalie steals the show like that, he deserves to be given the chance to duplicate such a performance, especially in a massive game against your provincial rival. Randy Carlyle needs to ride the hot hand in Bernier, and if not, he will have trouble finding that consistent level of play from any of his players.
Although the Senators sit behind the Leafs in the standings by a total of seven points, when it comes down to this brutal rivalry, you need to throw both team records out the window. These two teams hate each other, a lot. Toronto fans are despised as they enter the city of Ottawa creating a sea of blue no matter where they go to watch the game. Ottawa is going to come out hard in order to beat their provincial rivals at home, and will most likely outshoot the Leafs, which is another reason Bernier needs to play in goal in this pivotal matchup.
If the Leafs ride the hot hand in Bernier and trust that he can be their No. 1 goalie, the sky is the limit for what he can do for them in goal. That is the reason they acquired him in the offseason, and it is now time to show him that they trust him as their go-to guy in net.