The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the bottom fifth of the league table when it comes to goals-against per game average as they sit 24th, allowing three goals per game. Yet you cannot blame the Maple Leafs goaltenders James Reimer and Sunday night starter Jonathan Bernier for this as both have at times had to make stops standing on their respective heads while facing 30 plus shots on goal per game and in some games upwards of 50 plus shots per game.
The Maple Leafs were able to win a game winning in shootout 3-2 over the New Jersey Devils with the win to be credited to the play of Bernier who once again stepped up and played out of his mind in order to give the Maple Leafs a much needed win. In the first two periods of the game, Bernier faced faced 27 shots on goal with Adam Henrique and Ryan Clowe getting shots past Bernier in a second period which saw the Maple Leafs let the a one goal leap slip away each with each Devils goal.
The Maple Leafs’ defense would tighten up in front of Bernier as he only faced a combined 11 shots on goal in the third and overtime periods, which saw neither team score. Bernier would once again come up big in the shootout as he denied the Devils from scoring on any of their three attempts to give the Maple Leafs their first win in 2014 and snapping a four-game losing streak. Bernier’s play on Sunday night cannot be highlighted enough as his play along with that of his defense mirrored that of the Maple Leafs goalies and of their defense so far in the 2013-14 season.
Because of the play of Bernier and Reimer, the Maple Leafs find themselves in the hunt for a playoff spot despite what has been a bad stretch of games starting in December. While Bernier once again allowed the Maple Leafs to pull out a win because of his play, one must wonder how much longer Bernier and Reimer can keep up this high level of play before they wear out.
Lucas Carreras is a contributing NHL writer for RantSports.com. Lucas is also a contributing San Francisco 49ers and Soccer writer. You can follow Lucas on Twitter by following him @maldini3fan and you can add him to your network on Google.