The last time Jonathan Bernier started for the Ducks was on Dec. 20, when he allowed five goals in a loss to Montreal.
Since then, his lone appearance was a brief 3:48 stint in relief of John Gibson in a New Year’s Day win over Philly (Gibson left the game momentarily, and was put right back in).
As the numbers suggest, Gibson’s been leaned upon heavily lately — part of head coach Randy Carlyle’s plan to develop more consistency throughout the team — but that hasn’t been the Ducks’ only goaltending development.
So, back to Bernier.
“That’s the business,” he explained, per the O.C. Register. “You got to win games and [Gibson’s] playing well right now. We’re playing well as a team obviously and I think it’s completely understandable. But it’s not an easy situation at the same time for anyone.
“Every guy that’s in here, it could be a forward, or (defenseman) or goalie, wants to play and help this team. I’m just trying to stay ready for when my chance will come.”
Carlyle told the Register he expected Bernier to accept the current situation, even if it was “begrudgingly.” One has to wonder what it means for the 28-year-old moving forward, though.
Though Anaheim is only paying him $2.15 million in salary this year, Bernier still carries a cap hit of $4.15M, fairly hefty for a little-used backup. And this is a Ducks team, remember, that is pressed right up against the cap ceiling — Simon Despres and Nate Thompson are on LTIR, which has provided some savings, and the club did waive Clayton Stoner earlier in the year, he of the $13 million contract.
Bernier’s numbers aren’t great — 6-3-1, 3.05 GAA, .897 save percentage — and, given he turns 29 in August and has never really flourished as a No. 1, projects to be a backup moving forward.
He’s also scheduled to become a UFA this summer. If the Ducks keep using Gibson as often as they have, it’ll be tough for Bernier to put forth a “contract year” performance.