Bernier vs some kid named Jones tonight as Leafs Host the LA Kings
BY: Jeff Schneberk
Kings 20-7-4 at Maple Leafs 16-12-2
Anybody who woke up this morning with any thoughts of a ‘battle-of-the-former-friends’ matchup tonight when the LA Kings come to town to play against our Leafs tonight, are already in for at least one disappointment.
Announced earlier this morning online, Ben Scrivens won’t be getting the start for his ‘new’ team when they come to Toronto to play against his old team.
Due to an injury to Kings’ usual starter Jonathan Quick back on Nov. 12, LA will be going with their usual-third stringer.
Thanks to the good people of TSN, I’m going to get to watch this game on my TV.
This marks the first time the teams have met in Toronto going back to Dec. 19, 2011 when the Kings made off with a 3-2 shootout victory.
So far all the media seems to care about in this tilt is that it won’t be the goaltender battle that we all thought it might be (Reimer vs. Scrivens), and asides of course from the return to the Leaf lineup for winger Joffrey Lupul, it would have been cool to see Scrivens get the start against his former team; of course we all know what usually happens when Leafs trade someone to another team and then he comes back to beat Leafs every time!
Big story: the other ‘half’ of the big story has current Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier set to start against the team that traded him June 23. Rookie goalie Martin Jones was first off the ice at the Kings’ morning skate Thursday and likely starts for the Kings.
“Probably a lot of excitement, maybe nervous a little bit,” Bernier told the Maple Leafs website Tuesday. “And after the first shot, probably it will go away. But it definitely will be a first for me, to get traded and play against my old team. It’s going to be fun.”
Bernier is 9-8-2 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .929 save percentage splitting time with James Reimer (7-4-1; 2.63; .932).
“Obviously, everyone wants to play every game, but with the situation right now, it’s pretty good,” Bernier said. “It’s not like we’re waiting three weeks to get in. We know we’re going to play at least one game a week, which keeps your head in the game.”
Ben Scrivens (7-2-4; 1.56; .943), who was sent to L.A. in the June trade, played 10 straight games for the Kings after Jonathan Quick was injured Nov. 12, but Jones has played the past three, with two straight shutouts, including a 6-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday.
“They’re both kids, and they’re both trying to buy us some time until Jonathan Quick comes back, and whichever one plays best gets to play,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter told LA Kings Insider.
Kings: Los Angeles has allowed two goals or fewer in a team-record 16 straight games, and has not allowed a first-period goal in any of those. The Kings are 11-1-4 in that stretch.
Scrivens missed a start and has not gotten back into the net.
“Basically, we were going to rotate ’em the last few games, but Ben wasn’t ready to play in the start he was supposed to have,” Sutter said.
Maple Leafs: Toronto will be without captain Dion Phaneuf after the defenseman on Tuesday was suspended for two games by the NHL Department of Player Safety for boarding Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller in a game Sunday.
“Again, it’s another challenge,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “But the challenges are bountiful as we go forward into the season,” he added with a laugh.
INJURIES“But again, somebody else now gets an opportunity to fill those minutes, and some other people get a chance to play the power play and the penalty killing and to chew the 23-28 minutes that Dion plays night in, night out. That’s the way we have to approach it and that’s the way we brought it to our players, it’s seize this as an opportunity.”
Phaneuf leads the Maple Leafs in time on ice at 24:13, three minutes more than any teammate.
“The reality is we have to have somebody, or a group, share in the responsibility,” Carlyle said. “I don’t think, at this point, maybe we can look at one player or two players or three players. I think the level of our defense play has to go up. Now we’re taxing it to a point where we’re going to have to ask more of players that traditionally don’t play those minutes. They play part of those minutes, but they’re going to play the brunt of those minutes. … Honestly, I believe that there are people capable of doing it, and our window to view that will be tomorrow night against the L.A. Kings.”
One of them will be Jake Gardiner, whose ice time was increasing before Phaneuf was suspended. Gardiner played more than 25:00 in three of the past five games.
“We think that he’s calmed down in his play from a turnover standpoint and trying to do too much high-risk, high-reward,” Carlyle said.
Leafs’ dominance in the Atlantic division has tapered off in recent weeks but they still remain above .500 but for how long? They sit in fifth place at 16-12-3 and have a five-point lead over the Ottawa Senators. A win tonight vs the Kings will lift them into a tie with Tampa. Boston continues to dominate the division with 44 points. Montreal is next-best with 41 and Detroit sits one point above Tampa.
LA is tied for second spot in the Pacific division with the San Jose Sharks. LA is at 20 wins and seven losses for 44 points, three less than first-place Anaheim.