The Isles came into this season with two new additions to the team: Steve Bernier and Marek Zidlicky (more on Zid in another post this week). Both players have found themselves healthy scratched this week and with Ryan Strome coming back to the team, it seems likely Bernier will be scratched in the future.
Is this right? Should he be the player scratched? After all, his point total of 2 – 1 goal and 1 assist – isn’t impressive. He doesn’t play any special teams at all – a feat only matched by Matt Martin. If Bernier’s value then is only on 5-on-5, how valuable can he be if he’s not a scorer?
The answer of course isn’t THAT valuable, but he’s still pretty good. Bernier is 4th on the team in corsi, at 50.4%, and is only one of four Isles in the green (the others being Frans Nielsen, Kyle Okposo, and Anders Lee). He has been excellent in the neutral zone through 19 games (so not including the last 3 games), with a 52.3% Neutral Zone Score, mostly caused by suppressing opposing carry-ins. In short, while he isn’t scoring, the team is basically matching and slightly beating the opponents in possession while he’s on the ice. That may not sound like much, but the rest of the team hasn’t been doing that, except for the Frans Nielsen line.
There’s a place on NHL teams for players who don’t score but do prevent the team from being outmatched while their best players aren’t on the ice. That would be the fourth line. Bernier isn’t a hitter, but a logical team, not bound by the conventions of hockey-tradition, would replace Matt Martin with Bernier in a heartbeat. After all wouldn’t you rather have this guy:
than this guy (Remember, neither plays special teams):
But yeah, HITZ!