The Toronto Maple Leafs have watched a nasty trend develop with one of their goaltenders, as Jonathan Bernier has formed a bad habit during games.
Bernier is 9-9-2 on the year with a 2.52 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. However, despite being one of the biggest reasons Toronto is still in the playoff hunt, Bernier has formed an awful trend of allowing bad goals in key moments of games.
In Toronto’s 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings, Bernier gave up the game-winning-goal to Jeff Carter after his former teammate shot the puck through Bernier’s legs. The five-hole goal late in the third period of a tied game was one Bernier would like to have back, considering it was the last way he’d like to lose to the team that traded him in the offseason. Although Carter’s goal should have been stopped, given how far he shot the puck from, it’s the least of the bad goals Bernier has allowed this season.
Earlier in the year, Bernier let in a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes that bounced off the boards, only to then bounce off his skate and slide into the net. That goal ended up being the game-winner in a 3-2 loss for the Maple Leafs.
A month later against the Nashville Predators, Bernier struggled with a Craig Smith shot from behind the faceoff circle in the offensive zone that also resulted in being the game-winner in a 4-2 loss for Toronto. Smith’s shot was a routine shot on net from a bad angle, however, it jumped off Bernier’s glove only to fly about eight feet into the air and then fall behind the goaltender into his net.
If Bernier prevents those three goals from going into the net, it’s possible the Maple Leafs have three more wins on the season. There’s no guarantee Toronto picks up those victories, but it is 100 percent guaranteed they don’t lose those games as a result of goals that never should have gone in.
For Maple Leaf fans confused as to why the team consistently gets outshot, perhaps the opposition has caught on to Bernier’s nasty trend. When Toronto gets outshot in games, it’s usually because a good portion of those shots come from bad angles or areas on the ice with a low scoring percentage. Yes, the team certainly gives up legitimate scoring chances, however, there’s no denying teams often just fire the puck on net knowing their chances of beating the goaltender are slim.
However, given the three poor goals that have directly resulted in being game-winners, why wouldn’t teams continue to fire from all angles? It’s clearly been proven Bernier loses his focus during games for whatever reason and occasionally allows a bad goal.
For every game Bernier stands on his head and makes 48 saves as he leads Toronto to victory, he has a game where he lets in a goal he never should have allowed. If Bernier can’t put an end to this unfortunate trend, then it is likely to continue to cost the Maple Leafs in the standings. The irony of it all is that Bernier is one of the biggest reasons for Toronto’s early season success in the standings, and he is now quietly becoming one of their biggest reasons for their lack of success.