TORONTO – When Jonathan Bernier came out of his net and collided with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jayson Megna, the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender didn’t think much of it.
That is, until the next day.
“I woke up and it felt pretty bad,” Bernier said.
The lower-body injury forced Bernier off the ice for two days earlier this week and cost him a planned start Thursday night. But he and Toronto coach Randy Carlyle are optimistic he’ll be able to play Saturday night when the Detroit Red Wings visit Air Canada Centre.
“He is much better today and I would deem that he’s probably available to us,” Carlyle said Friday. “But we’ll make that assessment (Saturday) morning after today’s treatment and how he feels after today.”
Bernier said he was “pretty confident” he’d be able to suit up but will wait until after the morning skate to decide.
Carlyle didn’t think it was “fair” to put Bernier in net Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes while he was “nursing an ailment,” so Reimer got the call and won in a shootout. Bernier was able to serve as the backup.
Given how well Reimer played versus Phoenix, making 34 saves and a couple more in the shootout, it probably won’t matter if Bernier is healthy enough to start. More than likely Reimer will make his third straight start.
Reimer could go on a run of starts if the victories continue, but that doesn’t mean Bernier’s presence isn’t a source of motivation.
“You have to be at your best every day,” Reimer said. “You always want to go out there and be your best and want to win games and give the boys a chance.
“Obviously when there’s another world-class goaltender beside you, it pushes you.”
—Follow Stephen Whyno on Twitter at @SWhyno.