After practice on Friday, Kings head coach Marc Crawford met with the media and announced 19-year-old rookie Jonathan Bernier
as the Kings starter for their home opener on Saturday, vs. the St. Louis Blues.
“We are going to start Jonathan tomorrow,” Crawford said. “He has played extremely well to this point and it is a great opportunity for him. The thing we like most about him is that he has taken every opportunity that he has gotten and hasn’t been overwhelmed by it, he looks at it probably the right way to look at it which is go do what you can to put yourself in a very good light. He has got some distinct maturity and how he is handling these high profile situations is a good sign of how mature he is.”
Crawford also addressed what this might mean for the other goaltenders on the Kings rosters in J.S. Aubin and Jason LaBarbera.
“It is just a situation that our Los Angeles Kings are in,” the second-year Kings coach said. “We are not like the New Jersey Devils where Martin Brodeur is the established guy and we are not like the Calgary Flames where Kiprusoff is, we are a team that is emerging and a team that is looking at our goaltending and addressing it almost on a daily basis. I give the guys full marks, they have all paid good attention to the situation. As I said, three goalies is a difficult situation which may have been made easier with J.S. being injured for a while and then not having to need as much time. But he is getting healthier now and so again, you just have to keep dealing with the situation as it is. These guys have been doing a good job and I have been pleased with it.”
So what did Bernier have to say when being told he was starting on Saturday:
“He kind of expected it,” Crawford relayed. “It does not come as a huge shock. I think he was more excited when I told him he was going to start the [Season Opener in London].
“But he is a cagey veteran,” Crawford said with a smile, “he has a game under his belt now.”
Bernier, of course, started the season opener vs. the Anaheim Ducks at the O2 in London, stopping 26 shots in the Kings’ 4-1 win.
“It is pretty exciting, it is your first game at home,” Bernier said. “For sure it is a goal to win the first game here and get a good start at home. I will just play the same way and prepare myself the same way [as before].
“It is going to be a fun game, I just want to have fun.”
HEY I KNOW YOU
When Bernier takes his spot between the pipes on Sunday, he will see a familiar face shooting at him.
Former teammate David Perron, the Blues’ 1st round choice, 26th overall, in this past June’s NHL Entry Draft, made the St. Louis roster out of Training Camp.
“He knows my moves, and I know his moves, so it is fair,” Bernier joked. “It is great, for his first camp he made [the team], I am proud of him.”
Perron and Bernier were teammates with the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2006-07, scoring 39-44=83 in 70 games. Bernier posted a record of 26-10-3, two shutouts, a goals-against-average of 2.58 and a save-percentage of .905 in 37 regular season games with Lewiston.
REST OR RUST
The Kings have had five days off since playing its season-opening two-pack of games in London at the O2. Meanwhile the Ducks played on Wednesday, losing in the shootout, 3-2, at the Detroit Red Wings. The Ducks also play tonight at Columbus.
So for the past five days, the Kings have been hard at work on the practice facility and are ready for tomorrow’s home opener.
“We have had real purposeful practices this week,” Crawford said. “We have had a lot of great repetition and it is through the agony of repetition that our team is going to improve. I like where our club is.”