The last time InGoal caught up with highly touted Los Angeles backup Jonathan Bernier, he was coming off an up and down rookie season with the Kings, one that improved decidedly after adjusting some practice expectations, and coming a little further out of his crease midway through.
Bernier’s second season was a struggle as well, but only to find playing time behind Vezina Trophy finalist Jonathan Quick.
Just because he only played 16 games – a career low at any level – doesn’t mean the 23-year-old wasn’t still looking to improve. In addition to how he dealt with all the down time, Bernier’s evolution included a slightly altered glove position, which was the first question InGoal posed to him after practice during the first round of the playoffs for this Ask A Pro segment:
The question came from InGoal Facebook Fan Cody Osborne: Your glove position is unique to most NHL goalies in that it is kept high, but not palm down. What drills do you focus on to keep it high when making crease movements and butterfly slides?
Bernier: “When I was younger I kept it really low, so I’m just trying to get a better presentation with my glove, so it looks bigger and that space doesn’t look too big up there. Having a goalie coach around definitely helps you with that. It’s not so much specific drills as it is maintaining it in all drills, and it’s more when you are getting tired that you start forgetting and old habits start to come back. And that’s when [Kings goaltending coach Bill Ranford] would remind me to keep it up. Once you get used to it, you don’t really think about it any more. But if it’s down, he can tell you right away.”
~ InGoal reader Jack Hardwick asks: Why are your toe ties so different; why did you modify them?
Bernier: “My toe tie is anchored on the far inside edge of the toe bridge, it’s fixed, and I tie four knots in the lace between the pad and where it ties to the skate. In my Memorial Cup year I had a high ankle sprain, so I had to modify it, and this way my skate doesn’t go up as high [towards the middle of the pad] because it’s anchored on the inside, closer to the ice. There’s not many goalies that wear it like that, but usually if it’s in the middle of the pad your ankle kind of goes higher. And for me, my ankle never really recovered as good as I wanted to so I had to make that adjustment on my pad.”
~ Mark Ferrante asks through the InGoal Facebook page: How do you decide on which pads to use? And how long does it take to break them in?
Bernier: “I live 15 minutes from where [former Koho and current Reebok equipment guru Michel] Lefevre makes the pads, so I kind of help him out on stuff I like and change a little things. I’ve been going there since I was in Pee Wee. I was in Koho before and just stuck with Lefevre. … And it usually takes me about a week to break my pads in.”
~ InGoal reader Richie Jiaravanon asks: What mods do you have in your equipment and why?
Bernier: “I’ve always had just one strap, not two, going through knee stacks and it is attached on the outside of the pad below the knee rather than wrapping around it, and I’ve always had one less strap on the lower leg [both of which are now standard features on the new Reebok P4]. I have a single break on the outer roll, and a second upper break on the face of the pad, but not a second break on the outer roll. So I still have a little bit of flex, but not as much. I attach the inner Velcro strap around my knee instead of down to the outside of the calf [like Carey Price does]. I also felt like the inner layer of the knee [where it lands] comes up a little, so I put Velcro right to the edge of the stack to hold it down so the end piece wouldn’t pull up. This way it feels a little more solid.
“As for the blocker, it’s standard, and the gloves are actually the 590 break with a one-piece cuff. And yes, I have a practice glove. Drew [Doughty] likes the glove side and he can shoot it (laughs) so I think it helps, especially when you start and your hands are cold and you don’t want to get injurted in practice. Usually you have two gloves anyway, so you just beef one up so it doesn’t hurt. It’s pretty hard to close – I don’t even think I can really close it – but it’s just for practice.”