With starting goaltender John Gibson sidelined due to injury, the Anaheim Ducks have had to rely on Jonathan Bernier for the better part of the past month to carry the workload in net. He has not only filled in admirably as the team’s backup, but has been one of the biggest reasons the Ducks have gone on a little bit of a run over the past month and have been able to close to within four points of the top spot in the Pacific Division after their 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night.
Bernier stopped 33 out of 34 shots to help pick up the win, improving his record in March to 6-1-1 with a .953 save percentage.
His performance on Saturday came just 24 hours after he stopped 30 shots and went through an 11-round shootout against the Buffalo Sabres.
Said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle after the game, when asked about going right back to Bernier instead of backup Jhonas Enroth: “You always go to who’s going to give you the best chance for success. It doesn’t matter if it’s a goaltender, if it’s a forward or if it’s a defenseman. That’s who gets to play in our minds. And hopefully you make the right call.”
Obviously, on Saturday, he made the right call.
The Ducks picked up Bernier over the summer from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a conditional draft pick, reuniting him with the coach — Carlyle — he had the most success with in his NHL career.
Bernier’s season has been a bit of a roller coaster in Anaheim (his month-to-month save percentage splits have varied between great and … not so great) but right now he is on one of those hot streaks that is giving the Ducks a chance to win every night no matter how many shots he’s had to face. During this recent stretch he’s stopped more than 30 shots four times and has allowed more than two goals just once in his past nine starts.
You have to assume that once Gibson is healthy again the job is going to back to him, but right now Bernier is doing everything he can to show that he is worthy of as much playing time as he can get. And having two capable goaltenders is never a bad thing.