The New York Rangers are dangerous enough without getting help from the other team’s netminder. In this case, the Maple Leafs goalie gifted Derek Stepan with a go-ahead goal in what was eventually another New York victory.
Holy Vesa Toskala, Batman!
Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier made his first appearance since Halloween on Sunday night and the result was much more frightening. With the game tied 1-1 in the second period, Rangers center Derek Stepan lofted a shot in from center ice and…oh dear…
That puck is in the net. The Rangers would go on to win the game by a goal (courtesy of Mats Zuccarello) for a final score of 4-3. New York is now on a nine-game win streak and sporting the best record in the NHL.
But yo, Jonathan – what was up with that Stepan goal?
It just so happens that I spent some time with Washington goalie coach Mitch Korn last week and he told me about the mantra that he instilled in Caps star Braden Holtby: “Default Tight.”
Which is to say, when you drop down into the butterfly, make sure you don’t leave a gap, because Murphy’s Law always seems to apply when it comes to netminding. That probably could have helped in this situation…just sayin’.
To Bernier’s credit, he took the blame when reporters asked him about the goal after the game, but it’s not a good look for the player presumed to be Toronto’s starter coming into the campaign. The winning goal from Zuccarello came off a fat rebound, so there were really two preventable Rangers tallies on the night.
Bernier is now winless through eight appearances this season while James Reimer has been resurgent, racking up three straight victories and helping Toronto to at least a point in his past five outings; which was key since Bernier had been on the shelf with a lower body injury. Coach Mike Babcock said Reimer would start Tuesday against Colorado.
While the Maple Leafs weren’t expected to contend for a playoff spot this season, it would have been nice for the group to be rewarded for otherwise good work against the best team in the league.