Mike Babcock on goaltender Jonathan Bernier: ‘I’m not a big believer in putting your head in the sand’

Jonathan Bernier is looking for answers following issues early in games.
Aaron Doster/Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

New Toronto coach Mike Babcock has consistently said he will expect more out of his entire roster, and on Monday, he emphasized that point when he spoke with goaltender Jonathan Bernier about stepping up to improve his game on the ice. 

Bernier is 0-3-0 through three starts this season and has given up what many deem as soft goals in the first period of each of those games. Babcock told the media that he believes the issue with Bernier is a mental one, and he had a discussion with Bernier about the mental inconsistency on Monday.

“Bernie would be the first to tell you he wants it to go better,” Babcock told reporters Monday. “We need him to be better, especially early in back-to-backs. You can’t get down two goals. He’s a big boy, he knows that. You can’t spot the opposition two. We talked about it today. 

“I’m not a big believer in putting your head in the sand and ignoring what’s going on. I like to address it. When you have the physical capabilities he has got, [slow starts] are the mental side and that [affects] everything until you get it looked after.”

Bernier has a history of inconsistent play with the Maple Leafs, looking outstanding in net at times while wilting on seemingly simple shots at other times. The 27-year-old currently splits time in net with James Reimer, and they have combined to allow 15 goals against through five games. 

Bernier told the media that after his chat with Babcock Monday, he plans to reevaluate his pre-game rituals and possibly change the way he prepares for games. 

(h/t Toronto Sun)

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