|Teenage goalie Bernier makes claim on Kings starting job in debut|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 29 September 2007 11:21|
He may have earned himself a regular starting job Saturday.
Bernier made 26 saves and staved off a late rally attempt from Anaheim as the Kings beat the defending Stanley Cup champion Ducks 4-1 in the NHL's regular season opener.
Not a bad debut for a 19-year-old who came to training camp just hoping for a spot on the team.
``I don't think you could've expected a better game from a 19-year-old goaltender,'' Kings coach Marc Crawford said. ``There was a lot of pressure tonight, and he looked like a really solid, solid goaltender. Not very many pucks bounced off of him, and he made a couple of great saves.''
One came shortly after the Kings took a 3-0 lead on Mike Cammalleri's second power-play goal of the night early in the third period.
With Anaheim searching desperately for a goal, Corey Perry broke through two defenders in the Kings zone, but his shot from close range was calmly deflected by the rookie.
His shutout was spoiled with less than seven minutes to go, as Bobby Ryan took a rebound and backhanded it past a sprawling Bernier.
For Bernier, stepping from relative obscurity into the limelight didn't seem to cause any jitters - even when his debut was delayed for 16 minutes because of a lighting malfunction.
``I wasn't nervous,'' said Bernier, surrounded by reporters in the Kings dressing room. ``I just kept my focus. It was a long time I had to wait.''
Bernier said he was told by Crawford on Friday night that he would be the starter, and immediately called home to tell his family.
``It's always good to get the start of the season, especially at my age,'' Bernier said. ``I'm pretty happy with what I did tonight.''
So were his teammates.
``It's pretty amazing,'' said Kings captain Rob Blake, who scored his team's second goal. ``I think it's a calming effect he has on all of us. The way he plays is very calm, he doesn't really move too much. The puck just seems to hit him. And that carries over to all of us.''
Blake said the goaltender's youth had never caused any concern among the players.
``If you watch his demeanor around the room, he's a guy who's ready to play in the NHL,'' Blake said. ``He's not a junior kid anymore. ... He has been our best goalie, and he showed it tonight.''
Still, Bernier may find himself on the bench for Sunday's second game against the Ducks. Crawford said he's leaning toward giving Bernier a rest in favor of Jason LaBarbera.
``With the youth of our team, and the back-to-back settings, we're going to want to make sure we keep as fresh a lineup as we possibly can and try to get everybody to contribute,'' Crawford said.