NASHVILLE – Jonathan Bernier has yet to make three consecutive starts in his National Hockey League career. After his first shutout as a member of the Leafs on Thursday evening, the 25-year-old appears well on track to get that chance in the days ahead. Bernier was an impenetrable wall in the Leafs crease at Bridgestone Arena, stopping each and every one of the Predators 36 shots in the very same building where he once recorded his first career NHL shutout. Though still quite early, he is very quickly grappling hold of the no. 1 gig he long desired after years as a backup in Los Angeles. "I trained really hard in the summer and I wanted to be ready," said Bernier of his opportunity in Toronto, shortly after a 4-0 victory, the Leafs improving to 4-1-0 on the season. "I knew that was my chance to step up and show what I can do. Ive been waiting for that moment for a while in L.A." Like he had been in three games prior (two starts), Bernier kept it quiet in his efforts against the Predators, to whom he now owns an 8-1-0 career record. While his team stumbled through the opening half of Thursdays action – recording their first shot nearly 14 minutes into the game – Bernier held strong and sturdy, keeping the action even until Phil Kessel finally broke the deadlock for the Leafs late in the second frame. "Thats my focus," said Bernier. "Just to keep the team in the game." Nashville has struggled to score early this season – just six goals after four games – but when they did pose a threat on this night, Bernier turned it down, keeping their attack on a strictly one-and-done basis. With the action still scoreless early in the middle frame, Bernier stopped all three shots with the Predators swarming on a power-play. Later in the third, he blanked a Seth Jones point-blank attempt with no trouble. "The one thing that Bernie did tonight," observed Randy Carlyle afterward, "he stood tall in the net and he didnt give up a lot of second opportunities. The puck seemed to hit him in the middle of the chest and he controlled a lot of the rebounds. Good for him." Bernier has stopped 113 of the 116 shots hes faced thus far as a Leaf (3-1-0), his goals against average now a microscopic 0.85, his save percentage an otherworldly .974, albeit after just four games. Wisely opting for prudence at this very early stage in the season, Carlyle refused to make any grand proclamations about Bernier and the starting job. One thing is clear though; Bernier will finally start his third consecutive game when the Oilers visit the Air Canada Centre on Saturday. Five Points 1. Odd parallel Though he was unable to recall the night three-plus years later, it was back on Mar. 30, 2010 that Bernier first recorded his NHL shutout, a perfect 34-save showing in his just his sixth NHL start with the Kings. 2. No rebounds Berniers ability to limit rebounds and keep a quiet crease has been the most impressive feat for Carlyle thus far. Of that ability, the Leafs netminder said it was a matter of squaring up to the shooter and receiving the puck "in the chest" and thus swallowing the potential for rebounds. Bernier is working to implement a defined partnership with his new defence core in Toronto, a system that will allow both to work together successfully, "The way I like to play is take away my far side," he explained, "and that makes a big difference because I can take away my short side, which most of the time Ill get in my chest." These lessons date back to his head coach with the Lewiston MAINEiacs – Clement Jodoin, now an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens. Under such a system, as Bernier explained, the goaltender would assume responsibility for the strong side of the ice, the defenders keeping check of the weak side. "That was his system defensively," Bernier said of Jodoin. "I just thought it was so smart because that way it makes it look easy and obviously theyre shooting more in your chest." 3. Top line attack Quiet with just four combined points at even-strength in the first four games this season, the Leafs top unit proved opportunistic against the Predators. All three members of the line – Kessel, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak – scored in victory, Kessel leading the way with three points, including his second goal of the season. Outfoxing rookie Seth Jones for a puck deep in the offensive zone, van Riemsdyk delivered a strike to Kessel for the games first goal, pick-pocketing Pekka Rinnes smother attempt for a wrap-around goal of his own six minutes later. The newly implemented shallow nets proved beneficial to the 23-year-old. "I think if you ask my opinion on them now I think theyre a pretty good part of the game," van Riemsdyk grinned. "I think that definitely helped me, able to get out quicker and be able to stuff it because hes pretty quick to get back in the net." With their depth dinged by injuries and an ongoing suspension to David Clarkson, the Leafs have not surprisingly turned to their top guns on a more substantial basis in the early going this season. The top unit has received the brunt of the increase thus far. Player 2013-2014 2013 Tyler Bozak 21:56 20:18 Phil Kessel 21:24 19:48 James van Riemsdyk 21:22 19:12 4. Jumping from junior to the NHL Morgan Rielly picked up his first NHL point – an assist – in victory on Thursday as he continues to transition from junior into the NHL. Perhaps no defender on the Toronto corps understands the difficult jump Rielly is attempting to make better than captain Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf leaped from the junior ranks in Red Deer onto the Calgary Flames roster in 2005, totaling what remains a career-high 20 goals and 49 points in his first NHL season. "The biggest adjustment is youre playing against men," Phaneuf told the Leaf Report of his experience. "The two biggest things that I noticed and I think every young guy that breaks in at a young age notices, its the speed and strength of the guys. Its not just that theyre stronger on the puck, but its that theyre that much quicker with that extra strength. Juniors a great pace, theres lots of pace to junior hockey. But at this level everyones consistently big, strong and Im not talking that every guys 6-foot-5 or 6-foot-6, Im talking every guy is strong on their feet and they know how to protect the puck and theyre strong on the puck. Thats the biggest thing for young guys jumping in." Of Rielly, who logged a season-high 19-plus minutes against Nashville, Phaneuf said, "I think hes doing a great job. Hes handled it very well and he keeps getting better." 5. NHL Debuts The Leafs had a pair of 20-year-olds in their lineup on Thursday, both making their NHL debuts against the Predators. A third round selection in 2011, Josh Leivo totaled 9:02 alongside Dave Bolland and Mason Raymond while David Broll, picked 66 spots after Leivo that same year, registered 9:19 alongside Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri. Broll also dropped the gloves with Matt Hendricks in the third and final frame. Leivo and Broll had combined to play in just 18 regular season games for the Marlies before both got the call to suit up in Music City. The Leafs have now had five players make their NHL debuts so far this season. Stat-Pack 8-1-0 – Jonathan Bernier lifetime mark versus Nashville. .974 – Save percentage for Bernier after four games. 17-18 or 95 per cent – Toronto penalty kill after five games.9:02 – Ice-time for Josh Leivo in his NHL debut. 9:19 – Ice-time for David Broll in his NHL debut. 13:40 – Time elapsed before the Leafs registered their first shot on goal (Mason Raymond). 39 – Faceoff percentage for the Leafs, who won just 26 of 66 against the Predators. 29 per cent – Toronto power-play after five games, totaling six goals on 21 opportunities. 1 – Assist for Morgan Rielly, his first NHL point. Quote of the Night "Get it in the chest." -Jonathan Bernier, on limiting rebounds. Special Teams Capsule PP: 2-4 PK: 3-3 Up Next The Leafs host former Marlies coach Dallas Eakins and the Oilers at the ACC on Saturday. Barry Bonds Jersey
. "Weve given ourselves now a tougher task," said Carlyle after the Friday practice, the Toronto head coach notably chipper and upbeat throughout. "But the bottom line is we just have to win our share of games [and] not worry about what anybody else is doing. Johnny Cueto Jersey
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. PAUL, Minn. NEW YORK -- They have gone from disappointment to dominant, a team that was booed on its home floor and now rarely loses there. And pretty soon, the Brooklyn Nets will also be a playoff team. Pierce scored 22 points after another sensational start, and the Nets moved to the brink of a post-season spot by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 114-99 on Sunday for their franchise record-tying 13th straight home victory. "First part of the season was rough on us with injuries and everything that we went through, and it feels good," guard Deron Williams said. "It feels good to be able to turn it around." Pierce scored 16 in the first quarter, two nights after putting up 17 in the period, and didnt miss a shot in either. He couldnt keep it going after asking for a rest so he would stay fresh to defend Kevin Love, but the Nets had to plenty more to pull away. Joe Johnson added 19 points for the Nets, who were 10-21 when they reached the new year, but will clinch a playoff spot with either another win or a loss by the New York Knicks. A post-season berth was viewed as a sure thing when the Nets acquired Pierce and Kevin Garnett while assembling a team that would cost more than $180 million, but they struggled early and then lost leading scorer Brook Lopez to a season-ending foot injury. "I think a lot of teams with bad character, bad leadership in the locker room wouldve laid down a long time ago. Probably by Christmas wouldve been making summer plans," Pierce said. "But not this group." Andray Blatche had 14 points and three players finished with 13 for the Nets. Brooklyn equaled the longest home winning streak in the NBA this season and the best in the history of the franchise, done twice in 2002 when the Nets were still based in New Jersey. They have won 20 of their last 22 games at Barclays Center. Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin each scored 21 for the Timberwolves, who had won two in row and were coming off the highest-scoring game in the NBA this season, when they scored a franchise-record 143 points in a rout of tthe Lakers on Friday.ddddddddddddBut they had only 17 in the fourth quarter of this one as Brooklyn surged to the finish. Love finished with just 14 points and nine rebounds for the Wolves, shooting 5-of-14 and saying afterward he felt "exhausted" and was perhaps getting sick. "I couldnt find any energy in the second half and that was really it," Love said. The Nets led by one early in the fourth quarter, but got three 3-pointers from Alan Anderson in a 13-4 spurt that gave them a 98-88 lead with 6:51 remaining, and Pierce later added a 3 to make it a 13-point cushion. Brooklyn finished off a 12-4 March, matching the team record for victories in the month set in 2006 and hopes to have Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko back from injuries by the end of the upcoming week. Pierce, who scored 17 points in the first quarter Friday, had 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting by the time he checked out after 10 minutes to open this one. He is 10 for 10 from the field, 8 or 8 on 3-pointers, in 17 minutes over the last two first quarters, and this is the first time in his career that hes scored at least 16 in consecutive first quarters. The Nets led 30-27 after one and opened a 49-36 lead on Mirza Teletovics 3-pointer with 6:11 remaining in the second quarter. Minnesota whittled that down to 59-54 by the break. The Wolves charged out of the locker room with a 15-4 run to open a 69-63 lead a little under 4 minutes into the third quarter. But the Nets, who had rarely trailed in the second half during their streak, quickly regrouped behind Johnson and Shaun Livingston to move back in front and take an 85-82 lead to the fourth. NOTES: The Nets said before the game that Garnett, who has missed 16 straight games with back spasms, is hoping to play next weekend or during their trip to Florida on April 8 and 9. Kirilenko is targeting a mid-week return from a sprained left ankle. ... Johnson became the 15th active player with 17,000 career points. Pierce and Garnett have already done it. ... Oklahoma City also had 13 straight home wins from Nov. 3-Dec. 19. Cheap NFL Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Jerseys From China Wholesale NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap Jerseys
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