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The Maple Leafs season ended in disappointing fashion. That being said, there are few obvious bright spots that stand out from the Leafs squad — foremost being goaltending. The Leafs shot differentials were abysmal and consistently so. Per extraskater.com, their -8.6 shot differential per game is second last in the National Hockey League, only besting the Buffalo Sabres rate of -10.6. In many of these games, the only reason they had even the chance to squeeze out a win was through superb goaltending. Jonathan Bernier earned most of the starts for the club, appearing in 55 contests — he likely would have made it past the 60 game mark if not for a late season injury. He was a bright centrepoint in an otherwise disappointing season.

Bernier was acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in june of 2013. In return, the Leafs sent them forward Matt Frattin, goaltender Ben Scrivens (since traded to Edmonton) and a second round pick.

In his first season since being acquired, Bernier has been a gigantic part of his new franchises success. He has impressed a fanbase and media that is often hypercritical, a task that can be difficult, especially for goaltenders — just ask often and unfairly criticized James Reimer.

Bernier has proven himself over the course of the year. Taking on the amount of shots against can be exhausting for a goalie, yet his results are extremely impressive. He’s shown the ability to be a top ten starter in this league at the age of 25. Due to all this, I want to look at Bernier’s impressive play by the numbers and examine where he stands league-wide.

 

Bernier accomplished a phenomenal 2013-2014 season. His save percentage of 92.3% ranks tied for 5th. Here are the top ten save percentages in the NHL this season.

 

Goalie Save Percentage (Min. 41 GP)
1. Tuukka Rask 93.0%
2. Semyon Varlamov 92.7%
3. Carey Price 92.7%
4. Ben Bishop 92.4%
5. Jonathan Bernier (TIE w/Bobrovksy) 92.3%
5. Sergei Bobrovsky (TIE) 92.3%
7. Henrik Lundqvist 92.1%
8. Jaroslav Halak 92.1%
9. Cory Schneider 92.1%
10. Kari Lehtonen 91.9%

 

 

As is obvious there, Bernier ranks up very well against other top-tier goalies in the 2013-2014 season. Of the 5 goalies that are ahead of him (or tied with him), one of them is a Vezina winner in Bobrovsky and the other four will likely be in this years vezina conversation. He is also ahead of big name goaltenders such as Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Miller and former teammate Jonathan Quick.

Bernier’s season this year was phenomenal. He was performing at a level comparable to any other starter in the league. His season should put him in the conversation for the Leafs MVP.

Bernier’s save percentage over the last three seasons combined is also very impressive. He holds up well compared to many other top-tier starters. I’ll look at a couple of star goaltenders to see how he compares. I’ll compare his three year results with goalies I consider to be stars in this league. Specifically; Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick, Carey Price, Tuukka Rask and Henrik Lundqvist.

NOTE: I’m using even strength save percentage for this part due to EV SV% being more predictive of future success in larger sample sizes. Bernier’s sizes don’t quite reach a large sample size quota, but many the comparisons do — and there’s no harm in using even strength results in any rate. Here’s a post on that topic http://www.broadstreethockey.com/2012/1/25/2730816/goalie-save-percentage-projections-even-strength

But back to Bernier. Let’s look at his EV SV% up against the aforementioned star goaltenders in the National Hockey League. Bernier has not quite played 100 games over the last three seasons — he’s played 85 — so his sample size is relatively small compared to the other goalies, but his results are still incredibly impressive. Here’s Bernier’s 3-season even strength numbers compared to other top goalies.

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Bernier stacks up very well to the mentioned goalies that came to mind when I thought of the top-tier tenders in the league for the past couple of years. The only two here that are ahead of the leafs netminder are Rask and Lundqvist — not bad company to be beaten by, as both of those guys are considered top-3 goalies in the NHL. .

Additionally, Bernier is actually ahead of Quick, Price and Miller over the last three years — in a smaller sample size, sure, but still impressive results. Quick’s 92.5 is only marginally worse than Bernier’s 92.7, but it strikes me as strange that the Kings decided to trade Bernier when he seemed so impressive in his limited outings with the team.

As well, Bernier has done better than Carey Price over the last three seasons. Price is acknowledged as a very talented franchise goalie for the Habs, and the Leafs have someone performing at a similarly impressive rate — an idea that should excite any fan of the white and blue.

Bernier has been outperforming Ryan Miller in that time frame as well. Miller,alongside Steve Ott, was traded for Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart, a first and a third round pick as well as a prospect. Meanwhile, Bernier who is nearly ten years younger, was traded for a much more reasonable price, while outperforming Miller in the past couple years.

At any rate, Bernier’s results — in a somewhat small sample size — have been extremely impressive. In his time in Toronto, Bernier has looked phenomenal. Over the last three years, he has posted very impressive results that are in line with guys that are considered top starters. If we continue to see more of the same — which I would assert is fairly likely — Bernier could easily establish himself as a top goaltender in the coming years.

The numbers show it and anyone who is a regular watcher of Leaf games knows it; Bernier is an amazing goaltender. The Toronto Maple Leafs season may have ended poorly, but the biggest bright point that the fanbase can look to is that goaltender Jonathan Bernier has shown his skill and demonstrated the potential level of performance one can expect for the coming years — and that level of performance is a very impressive one that the worlds largest hockey fanbase will be delighted to enjoy in future seasons.

Follow me on twitter, @LukaRyder

 

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