Thursday, June 27, 2013

Jonathan Bernier Is Going To See a Lot More Rubber

The Toronto Maple Leafs are an improved defensive team. They were before they acquired Jonathan Bernier this week and are improved that much more now that they possess two high quality young goaltenders. During the 2012/13 regular season, Toronto's defence improved dramatically and allowed a half goal per game less than the previous season. This occurred despite the fact their shots allowed per game rose from 30.8 to 32.3. During this year's playoffs versus Boston, that number climbed to an amazing 39.0 per game.

Luckily the Maple Leafs have a goaltender that appears to thrive under a large barrage of rubber. Over James Reimer's three seasons encompassing 104 games, he has faced over 30 shots just about half of the time. By contrast, his new goaltending partner has faced over 30 shots in a game a mere 12 times over his 62 game career. He'd better get used to, and embrace the thought of more action in front of him.

Toronto's 32.3 shots allowed ranked 4th worse in the NHL while Bernier's Los Angeles Kings surrendered 25.0 shots a game, 3rd best in the circuit. The question is then, how will Bernier perform while facing perhaps 30% more shots in each match?

The numbers seem to show that he may do just fine.
Firstly, Reimer's split numbers:

James Reimer, Career Facing 30 or less shots


2.92 GAA
.891 Save Pct

James Reimer, Career Facing 30 or more shots

2.53 GAA
.931 Save Pct

Clearly, Reimer enjoys facing a lot of rubber. He wins a far higher percentage of his games with over 30 shots against, and he stops pucks with much greater frequency. 
Now for Bernier's splits:

Jonathan Bernier, Career Facing 30 or less shots

2.35 GAA
.907 Save Pct

Jonathan Bernier, Career Facing more than 30 shots

2.40 GAA
.929 Save Pct

Sure, the sample size is fairly small but like Reimer, Bernier also sees a significant jump in his Save Percentage when facing a larger workload. Leaf fans like myself should expect a healthy battle between two guys who luckily seem to play better when facing more shots than the average goaltender.

Unless there is a dramatic turnaround, Toronto will yield a higher than average shots to the opposing team. That's just the Maple Leafs way, hopefully Bernier can embrace that fact as Reimer has.

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