Maybe it’s because it was his efforts that got them into the playoffs last year or his dominance in the playoffs that led to a Conn Smythe win in addition to the Stanley Cup. Then, maybe both are reasons why I’m willing to let Jonathan Quick off the hook for his shaky performances over the last week and a bit.
Last Saturday, he was pulled after allowing two goals on three shots in Anaheim. Last Thursday he allowed three goals on just 14 shots in Nashville and this past Sunday in Detroit, he allowed two soft goals with the latter coming in the dying seconds of regulation. With all that said, Jonathan Quick doesn’t deserve to be ostracized for his less-than-stellar outings. Instead, he just needs a break and thankfully, he got one last night as Jonathan Bernier made his first start of the season.
While he wasn’t tested much in the early going, Bernier made some timely saves last night against the St. Louis Blues and even looked like Quick stopping a few pucks which would have otherwise been sure goals. While Quick is still far-and-away the number-one man in Los Angeles, Jonathan Bernier deserves to have a bit more ice time than usual.
While he’s not on the block, Bernier’s trade value increases the more he plays and given that Jonathan Quick had off-season back surgery, no one in their right mind can expect Number 32 to do it all by himself. From playing 72 games in 2009-10, 61 in 2010-11 and 69 games last season, it’s reassuring to know how much faith the Los Angeles Kings have in their netminder. With that said though, Quick is only human and while he continues to play well despite being overplayed, there will come a point where Quick just completely burns out. After all, a similar situation happened in Los Angeles 25 years ago when the Dodgers won the World Series behind their ace Orel Hershiser. The righty was so integral to the Dodgers’ win in 1988 that he was named World Series MVP. But being as overused as he was, Hershiser burned out and his career declined over the course of the next few years.
This is where Jonathan Bernier comes in and for what he provides, I’m very grateful. While I won’t say he’s not as good as Quick, it is common knowledge to say that Jonathan Bernier is nowhere near as seasoned as the man above him on the depth chart. It’s a shorter season which means that Quick won’t play in as many games as usual but this is Jonathan Bernier’s time to fill in and put his partner’s mind at ease every so often.
In the risk or sounding bias, I won’t call Jonathan Bernier the best backup in hockey but in terms of talent, he is definitely among the top goaltenders as far as non-starters go. Sure, the Blues were losers of four-straight before last night’s game but by no means can you think less of Bernier’s win. Since the season is abbreviated, all it takes is one team to lose a few in a row and one team to win a few in a row and the complexion of the playoff race suddenly changes. Any team, no matter how good or bad their record indicates, is a worthy opponent and Jonathan Bernier proved last night that he deserves some serious credit when getting the nod in goal.
Last night in St. Louis was his first of the season and if things go the way they should, it’ll have only been the first of many outings this season for reliable Number 45.