TORONTO – Among the many stars, fleeting paparazzi and widespread shimmer of the Hollywood scene was sheer anonymity for the former backup goaltender of the Los Angeles Kings. Vans Old Skool Black Sale . Jonathan Bernier was but a blip on the glitzy California radar, but now in his first season in Toronto, he finds himself squarely in the spotlight. One half of the Leafs standout goaltending tandem, the 25-year-old has raced out to a quick start with the new opportunity, posting a .933 save percentage in his first 10 games. Born 30 minutes outside of Montreal in nearby Laval, Quebec, Bernier knows a thing or two about the intensity and pressures of a furious hockey market. Speaking to the Leaf Report on Thursday afternoon, he detailed his adjustment to life in the spotlight, life with a new team and goalie coach, and starting on a regular basis. What follows is an edited transcript of that conversation. LR: Im wondering what the difference is off the ice in coming to Toronto. Youre coming from a place in L.A. where its not the same intensity as here. Whats that been like, that process of coming to a hockey market per se? BERNIER: Its definitely an adjustment because in L.A., youd be out on the street and no one knows who you are. Even the greatest players, [Anze] Kopitar and Dustin Brown, theyll maybe get recognized once in a while. [But] here, you have a good game, next day you go out for breakfast or whatever and everyones happy for you. People are very respectful and thats the one thing I found right away is theyll come and say congrats or good game, but theyre very respectful and thats a great thing. LR: Did the first time it happened catch you off guard? BERNIER: I heard about it [before I came here]; guys told me about it. And obviously coming from a big city like Montreal as well, I knew how [their players] deal with the fans outside the rink so I was expecting that a little bit. LR: So just going back to L.A., you could go out to dinner and walk down the street and just nothing? BERNIER: Nothing. Id say after the Cup [in 2012], people kind of knew who we were [in the area] where we lived, but if wed go downtown or Hollywood, theres no chance. LR: So whats the strangest thing that someones said to you here? BERNIER: I havent got any good stories yet (laughs). LR: Do you like the change? BERNIER: Yeah, its a good change. I think it keeps you focused on hockey. You dont want to have a bad game because then the next day, youre going to hear about it (laughs). LR: You understand the market in Montreal, how do you think the two are similar? BERNIER: I think theyre very similar. The [cities are] both supporting the team. I think for me though speaking French and being in Montreal, I think itd be a lot harder just because you have two sessions of media pretty much (laughs). LR: When a player comes to this kind of market, what are the adjustments required just to be ready for that kind of stuff? BERNIER: I found there is pressure, but pressure, you put that on yourself. If you dont really focus on whats going on on TV and radio and internet, I dont find [that it adds pressure]. Maybe [thats] because right now were having success – we have a good record – but maybe if it would be the opposite, maybe Id say a different thing. But so far I havent found that its that hard. Like I said, you just put pressure on yourself so its all about how much pressure you want to put on you. LR: Well, I would imagine it doesnt really change your focus. Your focus would have to be the same regardless. BERNIER: Yeah, exactly. I think even in L.A., among the guys, we were putting that much pressure on ourselves and the GM and coaches. Its kind of the same way here. We try to stay away from the media pressure and just focus on ourselves and our team and just make sure were ready every game. LR: You told me last week about the focus thats required mentally playing more often. Has it helped? Does it help you be a better goalie when you know youre playing more often? BERNIER: You mean from the pressure? LR: No, just in terms of your preparation in being ready to play. I would imagine in some situations in L.A., its difficult when you go a couple weeks and you havent played and youve got to get back in there and play well. Has it been like you thought it would be? BERNIER: I think its easier mentally just because the reason is youre happy and you dont get off into negative thoughts and things like that. So I think if you stay positive and just keep working hard, then youre having fun. I think as a hockey player or any sport, if youre having fun, usually youll have success. I think that was the thing in L.A.; sometimes I was getting frustrated in not playing. But at the same time, here, its fun. We have a great group of guys, were winning right now and its a big snowball. LR: And I can imagine the worst thing is if you had an off-night and you dont get to start for a while its just got to burn you? BERNIER: Yeah. And thats something that I had to learn my first year is not to worry about the result of the game, more focusing on my game. Because then you start worrying if you dont win, then youre not going to play for another two, three weeks and you have to think about that loss. I think I got better [at that] as the years went along. That was something I was really focusing on was just focusing on myself and not the result. LR: Has there been any adjustment working with a different goalie coach? Has he changed things? BERNIER: No. Rick [St. Croix] is really good. Hell just try to give me some tools, but at the same time, its not something that hes going to say you have to do this. Hes just going to let me know hey if you want to do this in a game or in practice, work on that and if you feel comfortable do it. But the one thing I really like is I think he watched a lot of video and probably heard about my style and he adjusted to that. He knows when I feel comfortable with my depth and things like that. Obviously its still new, but were starting to get a good chemistry between him and I. LR: So is that your depth in the net? BERNIER: That was just an example. It can be how I played the puck, make quicker decisions or things like that. But I can tell that he watched video and saw when I was on my game what I was doing right. LR: And thats what James [Reimer] told me, I remember last year, that Ricks not the kind of guy whos going to say you have to do this, hes going to look at what you do and say we can do this. BERNIER: Exactly. Cheap Vans Shoes For Sale . The Maple Leafs will play on the road for the first time this season after dropping home contests to Montreal and Pittsburgh to begin the campaign. After losing a one-goal decision to the Canadiens on Wednesday, they were bested 5-2 on Saturday by the Penguins. Vans Shoes Clearance Sale . Lowry and the Raptors officially announced a four-year US$48 million dollar deal Thursday. The deal was reported last week but couldnt be made official until Thursday, when the moratorium on signings was lifted. "They were real factors. I did my homework.PHILADELPHIA -- Playing their fourth game in five nights and missing their leading scorer, the sluggish Nuggets appeared well on their way to their third straight loss. Then they cracked down on defence and found a hot hand off the bench in Jordan Hamilton. Hamilton hit three straight 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter to help Denver overcome a slow start and the absence of Ty Lawson for a 103-92 win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. "Hes been doing that for us. He spaces the floor," Nuggets coach Brian Shaw said of Hamilton. "We finally got some movement when our guards started to attack, their defence started to converge and he found the open windows." The Nuggets (12-8) led by four with 4:28 to go before Hamilton, who finished with 13 points, made three 3s in a span of 67 seconds to push Denvers lead to 11. It came as part of a 15-2 run that turned an 86-all tie into a 101-88 lead for the Nuggets, who held the Sixers (7-14) to 15 points in the final quarter. "We found a way to contain them and force them to take some tough shots, and Jordan caught a little fire," said Andre Miller, who had eight points and seven assists. Nate Robinson led the way with 20 points and J.J. Hickson contributed 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who had dropped their previous two contests. Tony Wroten finished with 20 points for the Sixers, who held a four-point lead at the half. Philadelphia has dropped 10 of 12. "The right run at the right time definitely helps," Evan Turner said. "I thought we had control of the game most of the game." Turner, the Sixers top scorer, failed to reach double-digit points for just the second time this year, finishing with six points on 3-for-12 shooting. Denver dominated from beyond the arc, where it hit seven 3-pointers to the Sixers three, and on the boards, where it won the rebounding battle 52-38. Philadelphia shot just 7 for 20 in the final quarter and didnt even attempt a free throw. "They went on that run, and we came back on offence and we got good looks," Thaddeus Young said. "But it seemed like we ccouldnt knock them down. Cheap Vans Shoes. " Both teams played without their starting point guards. Lawson, who left Denvers 106-98 loss to the Boston Celtics on Friday, was sidelined with a left hamstring strain. The fifth-year pro leads the Nuggets in scoring (19.3) and assists (8.0). Sixers rookie Michael Carter-Williams spent his third night in the hospital while recovering from an infection on his right knee and missed his second straight game. "Its being monitored closely, but nothing to get too overly concerned with," Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said before the game. Philadelphia is 1-5 this season without Carter-Williams. The Sixers jumped out of the gate quickly on a 10-2 run. Denver took its first lead 23-22 with 1:53 in the first, but Hollis Thompsons 3-pointer with 47 seconds to go sparked Philadelphia to a 27-25 advantage after 12 minutes. The fifth game of a six-game road swing might have taken its toll on the Nuggets, who have been plagued recently with slow starts and trailed after the first quarter for the fifth straight game. Philadelphia played an unusually clean first half in which it turned the ball over just four times to take a 53-49 lead into intermission. One of the leagues worst in turning over the ball, the 76ers entered averaging 18 giveaways per night. Wroten started in Carter-Williams place and led the way at the half with 14 points on 7-for-12 shooting. As a team, the Sixers shot 50 per cent from the floor before halftime. "Tony Wroten was hot," Hamilton said. "They were getting some good looks at the rim. ... Their reserves came in and scored some shots, and we said, Man, we just gotta crack down on these guys. And thats what we did." NOTES: Lawson did not play for the first time this season. The Nuggets were 8-1 last year without Lawson in the lineup. ... The Sixers outscored the Nuggets 64-42 in the paint. ... The 76ers observed a moment of silence prior to the game for South African leader Nelson Mandela, who died Thursday at 95. ... On Monday, the Nuggets wrap up their six-game road trip at the Washington Wizards and the Sixers host the Los Angeles Clippers. ' ' '
WASHINGTON -- It was a quiet night for John Wall -- until the Washington Wizards needed their All-Star to deliver. Marcell Ozuna . Dribbling on the perimeter with the final seconds ticking off the clock and Washington down by a point, Wall found his opening. He drove the lane, drew the defence, and slipped a pass to a cutting Nene for the game-winning slam dunk with 0.9 seconds left in a 94-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. "I just prayed," Nene said. "I wanted to finish with the ball in my hands. They put the ball into my hands. John, he did amazing, penetration right there, he found me right there." Slamming the ball with his right hand, Nene finished with 30 points to match his career high. It wasnt the play Wall had in mind. "I wanted to shoot a jump shot," Wall said. "I saw Anthony Davis come and I wanted to whip it around to (Marcin Gortat.) But I saw (Jeff) Withey come at the same time and I saw Nene right there and that was the easiest, safest pass and luckily he got it off in time." Moments earlier, Wall had scored with a driving, off-balance shot in the lane to put Washington in front 92-91 with 27 seconds left. But Davis answered with two free throws with seven seconds to go. The Wizards called a timeout to set up Wall. "John made two plays at the end that you cant teach," Washington coach Randy Wittman said. "He got to the basket for the layup. For being down one with the time running down, under control, to make that last play to Nene for the dunk, it was good execution down the stretch." The play spoiled a big performance by Davis, who had 26 points and 11 rebounds. Anthony Morrow added 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting in a game that had 22 lead changes. "We were down. We were up. We were down. We were up," Davis said. "To come in close and lose, especially on a play like that, is tough." Nene made 13 of 19 shots. With Wall and Beal, the Wizards top two threats, combining for just 21 points, Washington turned to its frontcourt. Center Marcin Gortat contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds. Andre Miller, acquired in a deadline deal on Thursday, made his Wizards debut, scoring five points with three assists in 16 minutes. "I thought I probably played too many minutes," Miller said. "It will probably take about a week. My wind was cool." It was an uncharacteristic start for Washington, as Wall and Beal failed to score in the first quarter. But the Wizards other three starters compensated, hitting 11 of their first 13 shots as Washington took an early lead and held it for most of the half. Withey sparked New Orleans late in the second quarter with an emphatic rejection of Gortat. The 7-footer followed with a slam to give the Pelicans their first lead since the opening minutes, 37-36, and set the scene for a see-saw battle the rest of the way. Early in the third quarter, New Orleans went on a 9-0 run ignited by a 3-pointer by Eric Gordon and followed by three fast-break baskets, two of them by Davis. But Washington soon followed with a 15-2 spree, which included seven points by Nene and a 3-pointer by Martell Webster. Down by eight, New Orleans scored 11 straight points in a run that bridged the quarters and was ignited by 3-pointers by reserve guards Tyreke Evans and Morrow. The Pelicans led 89-85 when Brian Roberts hit a pair of free throws with 3:48 left, and he had a chance to increase it after a Washington turnover. But Roberts threw an errant pass which was stolen by Nene who fed Wall for a breakaway layup. Moments later, Wall returned the favour in dramatic fashion. "I just knew it was seven seconds and thats a lot of time," Wall said. "(In a loss at Houston), we went early and left four seconds on the clock. I wanted to make sure we got the last shot. If you lose, you lose, if you win, you win." NOTES: Al Harrington played for Washington for the first time in two months following December knee surgery ... Greg Stiemsma replaced Alexis Ajinica at centre for New Orleans, but failed to score and had as many technical fouls (one) as rebounds. Ajinica scored all nine of his points in the second half and added nine rebounds. Genesis Cabrera . The Cottagers last victory came in a 2-1 home win over West Ham when Rene Meulensteen was still in charge. Since then, a miserable run of seven defeats and two draws has seen the club part with the Dutch coach and replace him with German Felix Magath. Dakota Hudson .com) - The Ottawa Senators will try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they face the Chicago Blackhawks who are trying to secure their place in the post-season.Fayetteville, AR (SportsNetwork.com) - Michael Qualls scored 22 points and pulled down a game-high nine rebounds for No. 25 Arkansas as they pulled away in the second half for an 89-73 win over North Texas. Only leading by two at halftime, a balanced attack helped the Razorbacks (5-0) build their lead. Rashad Madden and Anthlon Bell each chipped in 15, and Madden added five rebounds and a game-high seven assists. The Mean Green (4-2) were able to stay in the game by shooting 10-of-20 from beyond the arc. T.J. Taylor paced North Texas with 16 points, and Jordan Williams contributed 15. Muhammed Ahmed scored 12 points and had seven rebounds. With less than 12 minutes remaining, a DeAndre Harris dunk for the Mean Green gave them their first lead of the second half at 55-54, but an Anton Beard triple 16 seconds later gave Arkansas the lead right back. After North Texas took that lead, Arkansas responded with a 14-3 run. A Qualls free throw got the Razorbacks their first 10-point lead, and it was preceded by a three-point play from Bell. Ahmeds three-point play with just over four minutes left on the clock got North Texas back within single digits, but the next minute and a half saw the Hogs go on a 10-0 run to take an 83-61 lead, their largest of the game. They hit all six free throw attempts in that sttretch, and Arkansas finished 20- of-25 from the line, compared to just 11-of-24 for the Mean Green. Chris Carpenter . . Entering the game shooting over 50 percent, Arkansas was limited to just 40.8 percent from the field, allowing North Texas to remain competitive. The Mean Green committed just 10 turnovers after averaging over 17 per game prior to Fridays contest. The entire first half was played in an eight-point window with neither team ever leading by more than five. A Qualls jumper for Arkansas gave them a five point lead with less than seven minutes remaining, but the Hogs needed a four point run with a minute and a half left to take a 38-36 lead into halftime. Qualls had 13 at the half with a trio of 3-pointers. Arkansas finished with a 47-34 rebounding edge, including 21 pulled down on the offensive glass. Game Notes Arkansas has a 18-game winning streak against non-conference opponents at home ... Arkansas has scored 78 or more points in every game this season ... Arkansas is 14-0 all-time against North Texas ... North Texas is on a 45-game losing streak to ranked opponents and hasnt won since Feb. 27, 1971 against 15th-ranked Louisville ... Arkansas last loss on Nov. 28 came in 2007 when current head coach Mike Anderson topped them with Missouri. ' ' '