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Monday, March 17, 2014

The mysterious case of Jonathan Bernier

By on 3/17/2014 12:30:00 PM

The Toronto Maple Leafs are generally vague about injuries - lower-body injury and upper-body injury is usually the extent of what the media and fans get when it's revealed that someone is injured. But Jonathan Bernier's injury seems especially mysterious.

For those who aren't sure what happened, Bernier left last Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Kings at the end of the first period with a "lower-body injury." Now, Bernier sustained this injury before the game against the Kings but wanted to play against his former team. He just wasn't strong enough to finish.

Did he re-aggravate it? Was he sore? Did he just not feel right? Nobody knows.

By Graig Abel / Getty Images
It was reported earlier last week that coach Randy Carlyle said the injury wasn't expected to be serious, and speculation abounds about Bernier going for an MRI just in case. But it's unclear if that MRI ever happened. Nobody's sure if he travelled with the team to Washington on Sunday or if he's in Toronto being examined.

The Leafs keeping their injury list tight-knit isn't something new. Two years ago when James Reimer went down, the Leafs wouldn't distinguish the injury between a neck injury, whiplash, a concussion or just "concussion-like symptoms." Whatever that means.

So as Toronto weeps and fears that their Vezina-candidate Bernier might be hurt worse than the Leafs are leading on, they are - along with the hockey world - left in the dark.

With Toronto fighting for their playoff lives, losing Bernier would be a big blow to team defying sports analytics predictions. One of the worst posession teams in the league, Bernier has carried the Leafs with a .925 save percentage. They're third in the Atlantic division, but only one point ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning and six ahead of the Capitals for the final wildcard spot.

If he's out a week, a month, or for the rest of the season, nobody's quite sure just yet. But what we do know is that until he returns, the oft-critcized Reimer will be the number one netminder, tasked with taking the Leafs back to the post-season.


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