It may be premature to declare Jonathan Bernier as “back” considering he struggled for just about the entirety of the 2015 calendar year, but the Maple Leafs appear on the verge of having both goaltenders rolling.
In a tough situation on Thursday night — a back-to-back in LA against one of the League’s hottest teams and most formidable possession outfits — a finally-healthy James Reimer held his team in it and gave them a fighting chance at tying the game late. He remains the league’s save percentage co-leader at .937 on the season (tied with Connor Hellebuyck).
Bernier, meanwhile, is heating up in the New Year, with three consecutive 39-save performances resulting in wins, including a shutout against the Ducks most recently.
The Leafs finish up their Western road swing tonight in San Jose (7 p.m. EST, CBC), with Bernier expected back between the pipes.
The Sharks are underachieving under new head coach Pete Deboer at 18-18-2 through 38 games, but there’s hope in the form of the weak Pacific Division competition, as they’re still just three points shy of a divisional playoff spot.
The Maple Leafs have lost by a combined 9-3 score in their last two visits to San Jose, but the Sharks are currently a terrible 5-12-0 at home this season, which is far and away the worst in the League.
The two teams last met on December in 18 in Toronto, when the Maple Leafs put four past Martin Jones and held a multi-goal lead only to fall apart and lose in overtime.
Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – PA Parenteau
Michael Grabner – Nazem Kadri – Leo Komarov
Daniel Winnik – Peter Holland – Joffrey Lupul
Shawn Matthias – Byron Froese – Brad Boyes
Jake Gardiner – Dion Phaneuf
Matt Hunwick – Morgan Rielly
Frank Corrado – Roman Polak
Injured: Stephane Robidas (lower body), Nick Spaling (upper body),
Scratched: Mark Arcobello, Martin Marincin
San Jose Sharks Projected Lineup
Tomas Hertl – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Matt Nieto – Patrick Marleau – Joel Ward
Melker Karlsson – Logan Couture – Joonas Donskoi
Tommy Wingels – Chris Tierney – Mike Brown
Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Justin Braun
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brendan Dillon – Dylan DeMelo
Injured: Dainius Zubrus
Scratched: Ben Smith