Jonathan Bernier

Kings’ Bernier commits to Team Canada for Spengler Cup


LA Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier — currently plying his trade with Heilbronn of the German second division — has committed to join Team Canada for the upcoming Spengler Cup in Switzerland.

Just one catch: Bernier will only play if the NHL lockout is still going.

The 2012 Spengler will be played in Davos and will feature the host club, Team Canada, Germany’s Adler Mannheim, Swizterland’s Fribourg-Gotteron, the Czech Republic’s Vitkovice Steel and Russia’s Salavat Yulaev Ufa.

Bernier, who would likely be Canada’s No. 1 netminder, has enjoyed some much-needed playing in the Bundesliga this season, appearing in 13 games with Heilbronner while posting a 2.57 goals-against average.

(To put that in perspective, he only played 16 games for the Kings during the entire 2011-12 regular season.)

The Canadian Press’ Chris Johnston spoke to Hockey Canada vice president Brad Pascall, who acknowledged he’s been in contact with Bernier and a number of locked-out NHLers playing in Europe — Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Patrice Bergeron, John Tavares, Matt Duchene, Brooks Laich — about their availability for the Spengler.

It’s understood all are in a similar situation to Bernier, in that their decisions are contingent on the lockout.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen