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September 20, 2011 3:45 pm

Bernier older, wiser and playing more?

Most NHL goalies, if ever in need of a second career, could take up professional poker. Asked a question about playing time — “When are you starting?” or “Who is starting tomorrow?” — many will give you the most innocent, sincere looking reaction and say, “I don’t know.” It’s not their fault. Many coaches like to keep their goalie plans as close secrets, so the guys in the pads don’t want to betray their coaches. To that end, it could be an interesting season for the Kings. Terry Murray said yesterday that he would lean toward playing the “hot hand” in goal. Today, Bernier said Murray hadn’t told him of any changes in the way he would handle Bernier and Jonathan Quick.

BERNIER: “Nope, not at all. What I learned last year is that you can’t really worry about playing time. I think when I figured that out, my game really stepped up and I was a lot more confident. So this year I have the same approach as I did in the second half of the season. Nothing is going to change for me.”

Question: Terry also talked about your improvement in the second half of last season. If you could isolate the reason for that, what would it be?

BERNIER: “For a goalie, or for any player, I think hockey is a lot about confidence and feeling good about yourself on the ice. I think I started feeling really good, seeing the puck really good, and then he started giving me more games. I think it’s just a big snowball. If you play more, you play better, and then you just feel better about your game.”

Question: Was it difficult at first, knowing you weren’t going to play as much as you had in the past?

BERNIER: “I think so, yeah. I think I was just too frustrated, I guess, that I was not going to play as much as I wanted to. At the same time, now I understand that there’s a lot of things I need to learn at this level, and I’ve got to earn my spot too. It’s not going to be easy. There’s going to be a lot more challenges for me in my career, and that was just a small one.”

Question: What are some of the things you think you still need to learn at this level?

BERNIER: “I think it’s just the challenges that come up sometimes. Sometimes you just have a bad stretch and you’ve got to learn things quickly. So I think it’s all mental at this point on.”

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