Backup goalie Jonathan Bernier makes the most of his opportunity with the Ducks

Backup goalie Jonathan Bernier makes the most of his opportunity with the Ducks
Ducks goalie Jonathan Bernier, right, blocks a shot as Blackhawks center Tanner Kero, left, watches the puck during the third period on Thursday. (Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press)

Ducks goalie Jonathan Bernier is known by several nicknames. "Jo" and "Bernie" are common, and "JB" works as well.

But he momentarily took on a new one Tuesday when word spread in the Ducks' locker room that he was named the NHL's second star of the week.


"Second Star!" his teammates said to him jokingly.

With apologies to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, it could be said that the Ducks are "feeling the Bern" more than ever. Bernier has won five of his past seven starts as John Gibson recovers from another lower-body injury. He did not practice Tuesday.

"I don't think Gibby's that far away from the standpoint that as soon as he gets on the ice and gets comfortable, it's a short window for him to get back into the net," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said.

"But the way Bernie's played — Bernie's earned that opportunity and he's given us real solid goaltending here over the last little while. Right now, why would you look in any other direction?"

For most of the season, the Ducks looked at Bernier on the bench. He started consecutive games once before February and maintained a professional approach about the role.

But Bernier, a free agent after this season, is making the most out of this opportunity. He went 3-0 with a 1.62 goals-against average last week and had a career-high scoreless streak of more than 125 minutes during his past three games. It's a reprise of his former starting job with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"I think when you play a lot, you just see the play before it happens, and the game just seems a lot easier," Bernier said. "You don't think, you just execute, and that's what happens when you start playing a lot more. Then you build confidence off those games, and by playing more, you feel confidence in yourself and your abilities to makes those saves."

Carlyle coached Bernier in Toronto and likes his competitiveness. He might have to tap into that the longer Gibson is out. Carlyle revealed Sunday that it's a different lower-body issue for Gibson than the previous muscle strain. He doesn't have a timetable for Gibson's return.

"Ultimately, we're not going put a player in until he tells us he can go," Carlyle said.

Vermette returns

Antoine Vermette played more than 17 minutes Sunday in his first game back from a 10-game suspension.

"That felt long, but the schedule was busy, so that was pretty good," Vermette said. "The games were somewhat flying by even though it wasn't fast enough for me. But I was looking forward to getting back in the rhythm and flow of playing regularly."

Vermette sat out for hitting a linesman with his stick on Feb.14. He apologized for the incident.

His return had an awkward twist, because the Ducks held the 10-year reunion of their 2007 Stanley Cup team that beat the Ottawa Senators, who at the time had Vermette and Ducks wing Patrick Eaves on their roster.


Vermette said it hit him when he caught a television clip of that series.

"I saw myself for maybe five seconds," he said. "It was strange to see that."



When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

On the air: TV: NBCSN; Radio: 830.

Update: St. Louis goalie Jake Allen has won his past four starts and sits on a career-high tying 26 wins. Vladimir Tarasenko is among the league leaders with 32 goals.