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Bernier on the Evolution of Goaltending I PODCAST

The Devils newest goaltender discusses how goalie position has changed over the years and how he's been forced to adapt

by Sam Kasan @SamiKasan /

Jonathan Bernier, 33, has seen it all when it comes to the goaltending position. 

As a youth, he learned to play what is now considered an old school style. That would be a standup approach with pad stacks, poke checks and aggressively challenging shooters. 

But as Bernier grew up, so did the technique of the position. From standup to butterfly. From two-pad stacks to an upright posture. From challenging shots to staying around the crease perimeter. From a VH (vertical-horizontal) post position to a reverse VH post position. 

And through it all, Bernier was forced to adjust his game, constantly learning the latest technique, mastering said technique and then learning a new technique, mastering this new technique and so on and so on. 

"I've had to work so hard from when I started to when I was a young goalie in my first year in the league until now, it evolved so much," Bernier told the Speak of the Devils podcast. "Everything now has to be sound."

The current goaltending technique has become second nature to today's goaltenders, but for Bernier, he's been forced to changed his entire style every few years. 

"These (young NHL goalies) have been doing it since they were 14, 15 (years old). For me, it almost took me a year," he admitted. "I had to work really hard to adapt to the new era. If you don't, then it's hard to stay in. You have to put in a lot of hours.

"Now I feel comfortable with it."

But what the position has gained in technique, it has lost in flair. There was some creativity to the position in the past with goaltenders baiting players to shoot glove side or five-hole just to take it away at the last minute. Goalies used some unpredictability to play mind games with shooters. 

But that creativity has been discarded in favor of a more predictable, yet effective, approach. Now, such old school antics would draw the ire of a goaltending coach. 

"Now it's more being square, being set," Bernier said. "Before that, when I started it was more stand up and two-pad stack and poke check. Now you don't really see that anymore. If you throw a two-pad and it goes in, it doesn't look good."

Here are some other topics discussed this week with Bernier: 

  • Moving to a new city
  • Upbringing as a goalie
  • Winning the Cup with the Kings
  • Goalie tandem with Mackenzie Blackwood
  • The evolution of the goaltending position 
  • The story behind his first tattoo

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