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article imageKing of his castle: Martin Jones solid against Maple Leafs Special

By Dave Pitman     Dec 11, 2013 in Sports
Toronto - The Toronto Maple Leafs hosted goaltender Jonathan Bernier's former team— the Los Angeles Kings—Wednesday night at the Air Canada Centre, expecting a familiar face at the opposite end.
There were no head-to-head goalie stats to compare for tonights game—neither starter had faced their opponents’ counterpart, and for good reason; The two rumored starting goalies were traded for each other in the off season, and the other Kings goalie was a rookie with just three NHL games under his belt coming into tonight.
The Maple Leafs and Kings struck a deal last June that sent goaltender Ben Scrivens and forward Matt Frattin to L.A. in exchange for Jonathan Bernier. Scrivens served as the backup goalie to James Reimer last year, going 7-9-0 with a 2.69 GAA—numbers that he has certainly distanced himself from this season. With all-star goaltender Jonathan Quick injured for the Kings, Scrivens has stepped in and surprised the league with stellar play. He sports a record of 7-2-4 with a minuscule 1.56 GAA and 3 shutouts this season.
Bernier has been solid as well. He has been much better than his 9-8-2 record suggests, facing 34 shots against on average per game.

The numbers can be misleading, especially taking the pedigree of the blue line into consideration. The Kings have gone the distance, winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 and going to the Conference finals in 2013. Their system is simple: Don't let pucks get to the net. They are tied for 1st in the NHL for Goals Against (1.94) and 4th in Shots Against (26.2). Toronto ranks 30th—dead last.
However, Bernier wouldn't be focused on numbers when the puck dropped. Playing the team that drafted you can stir up a lot of emotions... Emotions that he would have to get a handle on.

"Probably a lot of excitement; maybe nervous a little bit...” Bernier said on Tuesday, “... and after the first shot, probably, it will go away. But it definitely will be a first for me to get traded and play against my old team. It's going to be fun."
But no fun would be had for Scrivens whose return to Toronto would be spoiled by getting back-up duties to Kings rookie Martin Jones. Coming off two straight shut-outs in his first three NHL career games, the Kings would roll with the hot goalie against the Leafs. When asked if he was disappointed in missing the chance to play the team that dealt him to LA, Scrivens shrugged it off.
"No, life of a hockey player. You want to play every game" said Scrivens before the game on Wednesday.

Dion Phaneuf was out of the line-up serving the first of his two-game suspension for a hit from behind on Boston’s Kevan Miller. Joffrey Lupul made his return to the line-up after sitting out the last seven games due to injury. Former Leaf Matt Frattin was a healthy scratch for the Kings.
The Maple Leafs came out swinging in the first period. Unlike most of their games, they were outshooting their opponent right out of the gates. Martin Jones put to bed any questions of who should have started the game for the Kings by robbing the Leafs of a couple scoring chances early. With momentum on their side, Peter Holland took an undisciplined holding penalty, stopping the Leafs from capitalizing. The Kings would work the puck around and Drew Doughty put the Kings up 1-0 on the man advantage.
The second period started like the first for the Maple Leafs. They came out strong and put together many scoring chances but Martin Jones was outstanding turning aside a plethora of Maple Leaf shots. With the Kings struggling to execute their game plan, Mitchell and Doughty took a couple of penalties minutes apart giving Toronto a chance to play 5 on 3. Cody Franson made a great play to find Phil Kessel at the blue line and made his way to the side of the net. Kessel drove to the net, faking a shot before quickly feeding Franson the puck who had a wide open net. Franson buried his first goal of the season to even the game at 1-1. Later in the frame, the Kings would break out on a 2 on 1 but the play, however, was blown dead before a shot could be recorded as an unusual fight broke out between Joffrey Lupul and Slava Voynov, two players who aren't known to drop the gloves. They would exchange a few punches before Lupul eventually took Voynov down to the ice. The Maple Leafs would outshoot the Kings 21-16 through two periods.
The high tempo continued in the third period as both teams looked to break the stalemate. Both goaltenders stood strong as chances were traded before Paul Ranger was caught out of position, leading to a 2 on 1 break for the Kings. Jeff Carter would slide it through Bernier's five-hole for his 8th of the season to put the Kings up 2-1. Kyle Clifford would make it 3-1 shortly after and that is how the game would end.
Although the Leafs came out with a loss, the team is pleased with the way they pushed the tempo Wednesday night.
"We definitely played our best game of the year tonight and we deserved a better fate", Bernier told reporters post game, "I just got to find a way to step up my game lately… I just got to find a way to stop one more".
"We were more on the same page tonight than we have been… We really paid attention to the details of defence", Franson said. When asked about his first goal of the season he replied, "That goal was all [Kessel]. He froze the goalie, the goalie hadn't even moved when I got the puck".
Though the Kings came away with the win, The Maple Leafs may have played their best game of the year. Facing one of the Leagues top defensive teams, the Maple Leafs managed to out-shoot the Kings 39-23. Martin Jones was outstanding earning his fourth straight win in four career games with the Kings.
The Maple Leafs have been outshot in 27 out of their last 31 games, a number they would like to correct. They will head to St Louis Thursday night to take on the Blues (20-6-3) where they will have to be sharp defensively again.
Dion Phaneuf will sit out the final game of his 2 game suspension. The Maple Leafs are 5-9-3 in the 17 games Phaneuf has missed since being acquired by Toronto in 2010. James Reimer will likely get the start.
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