Jonathan Bernier clearly was the man of the hour Monday when the Ducks' dressing room doors opened to the media.
The French-speaking media horde from Montreal descended on him to get the latest from the Quebec-born Ducks goalie in a unique confluence: Bernier has played well enough to earn another start, which would come Tuesday against his favorite boyhood team, the Montreal Canadiens.
Bernier has yet to start consecutive games for the Ducks despite a 4-1-1 record including his win Saturday against the San Jose Sharks. Bernier has been a consummate professional about his role since he joined the Ducks this summer, but was candid when asked about possible back-to-back starts.
"Perfect," Bernier said.
Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle adhered to his long-held policy of not announcing his starting goalie and has deflected any hint of a goalie controversy similar to what played out in his first turn as Ducks coach with Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Hiller.
Ducks General Manager Bob Murray acquired Bernier to take the reins often as John Gibson, the presumed starter, develops further in his first full NHL season.
Bernier's only regulation loss came in the second game of the season, and he carries a 2.02 goals-against average. He knows his stunted playing time is part of what he signed up for, and Carlyle has made sure he hasn't sat for too long.
"I think Randy's been really good," Bernier said. "I've been playing pretty much every week. It keeps me in the game, keeps me involved. You want to play every game, but it's a big change. Instead of playing every three weeks [as a typical backup goalie would], you're playing every week."
Carlyle, who coached Bernier with the Toronto Maple Leafs, praised his professionalism. Bernier went through a trial in Toronto when he struggled behind a weak defense, was sent to the minors and promptly got three shutouts in four games.
"He went to the [American Hockey League] and rediscovered himself," said Kevin Weekes, an NHL Network analyst. "If 'Bernie' can find his stride, when he's at his best, he's playing his patient game. He makes it look easy."
Bernier, whose favorite Canadien was former goalie Jose Theodore, would like to continue that stride against Montreal. A lot of friends would be watching.
"Even if it's late," Bernier said.
Carlyle shared the hockey community's surprised reaction to the firing of Florida Panthers Coach Gerard Gallant, a coach-of-the-year finalist last season, but also was stoic.
Carlyle was fired by the Ducks almost five years ago to the day Tuesday, after a win against Montreal.
"As a coach, that's not a good day in anybody's life," Carlyle said. "That's part of the business. I don't think there's too many coaches around that haven't had that feeling. If you're not prepared to deal with those situations, then you're in the wrong business."
DUCKS VS. MONTREAL CANADIENS
When: Tuesday, 7 p.m. PST.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 830