Just when you thought you’d never see Jonathan Bernier in net again, the young should-be would-be stud gets the nod tonight against the St. Louis Blues. Enjoy it, as you may not see him again until close to Christmas. This will be just his 4th start of the season.
To boost the mistrusted goaltender’s confidence, Murray has saddled him with a 4th line of Moreau-Fraser-Westgarth. Hunter also swaps out with Richardson again.
Speaking of confidence, Murray had this to say today about Bernier:
“I thought he was real sharp and had some great efforts in the exhibition games. Then, for whatever reason, something happened when he got into that second game that we played in Europe, against Buffalo. There were plays, that he was making in training camp, that found the back of the net on him. So, it’s only his second year really, in the sense of being a full-time player in the NHL. You’re going to have to go through a little bit in order to become a better player.”
There you have it, pretty clear proof that Bernier has been paying bench penance for a below average first game to start the season. Let’s all get behind Bernier for tonight’s game and wish him the kind of brilliant performance that extinguishes month-old doubts in Murray’s eyes. We’ll take the challenge of being thrown out there against one of the hotter teams in the NHL in St. Louis, after a terrible game by the Kings last Saturday against Detroit, as small stepping-stones in Bernier’s ladder to playing more than twice per full moon.
Now, about this fourth line. Moreau-Fraser-Westgarth is, on paper, just about the most abysmal combination one would have ever expected this season. A complete lack of energetic youth (Westgarth is 27 folks), a guy who wasn’t supposed to be playing in every game but has in Moreau , and a guy who Lombardi had hoped to simply buy-out, the guy he wanted less than a 7th round pick, Fraser. Look, Fraser has been alright. If we didn’t have Lewis AND Richardson (who are both scratched), then I would be completely behind a player like Fraser. But if this 4th line doesn’t sum up that there is a clear problem on the roster itself past the first 8-10 forwards, I don’t know what does. You know I’m actually most excited to see Westgarth on this line. In his games this season he has been much better than he was most of last year. His mistakes haven’t been as bad, his skating not as blatantly abhorrent and his forechecking has been, at times, not just acceptable but an asset.
Why Brad Richardson is the one going in and out of the lineup and Moreau hasn’t missed a game yet… well let’s just say I don’t think he’s quite cute enough to warrant the love affair. Richie is supposed to be the heart throb. Maybe Murray is jealous is his hick-ish good looks. I hope Murray doesn’t wet his pants too quickly tonight, what with now having BOTH Moreau AND Hunter to throw out on the second unit PP in the same game.
Still, we can’t fault the player for how he is used. Hunter’s last two games were quite solid, so perhaps his presence on the third line won’t be a drag.
The bright side is that Loktionov and Voynov are still here. If we could now only get a little of the Russian connection going on our powerplay, I could wet my pants too.
I don’t expect two dismal performances by the Kings in a row. A road game feels like just what the doctor ordered. The Blues should play the sort of rough and tumble energy game that brings out the best in the Kings.
My gripes are merely perfunctory at this point.
We’re going to kick ass tonight.
I’ll be working and won’t get to watch the game, so I’m counting on you guys for the updates. I may be the lucky one though as I won’t have to look at Ken Hitchcock’s psychotic, bloated face.
GO KINGS GO!