On Monday, Jonathan Bernier continued his improbable rebound by capturing the NHL’s second star of the week.
From the league:
Bernier went 3-0-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average, .948 save percentage and one shutout to lift the Ducks (36-23-10, 82 points) into second place in the Pacific Division. He made 24 saves through overtime – and turned aside all five attempts he faced in the shootout – in a 4-3 victory against the Nashville Predators March 7.
Bernier then recorded 43 saves in earning his 14th career shutout via a 1-0 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks March 9. He finished the week with 25 stops in a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals March 12.
The 28-year-old Laval, Que., native owns a 13-7-2 record with a 2.69 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and two shutouts in 29 appearances this season, his first with the Ducks.
It was that long ago — mid-January, in fact — that we wrote about Bernier going 23 days between starts, a situation that was “not easy” to deal with. Things didn’t get much better from there.
Bernier’s did play all that much — or well — in February, making just five appearances and finishing with a .896 save percentage. The low point came in a 3-2 loss to Arizona, in which Bernier was yanked after allowing three goals on six shots in the first period.
“Looks bad on him,” Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle said at the time. “But I think you have to blame this one on his teammates.”
Heading into the March 1 trade deadline, there were rumblings Anaheim would target a veteran backup for No. 1 John Gibson (Vancouver’s Ryan Miller was mentioned). There were legitimate questions about how much the Ducks trusted Bernier if Gibson either suffered through a stretch of poor play, or injury.
Then, the latter happened. Gibson suffered a lower-body injury on Feb. 20, and the club was forced to trust in Bernier.
The results have been fantastic.
Bernier’s now started eight of the last nine for Anaheim, with Gibson returning from his lower-body ailment in Friday’s 4-3 loss to St. Louis. This development has given Carlyle the flexibility to rest Gibson as he sees fit — and perhaps given Bernier new life heading into the summer.
A pending UFA, Bernier’s recent run could bump his stock on the open market, which figures to be fairly flush. Names like Miller, Ben Bishop, Steve Mason and Brian Elliott could all be available. Projections suggest there won’t be many jobs available, meaning Bernier will be in tough to carve out his niche.
But if he continues to play the way he has, teams will certainly come calling.