Jonathan Bernier happy to play in hometown, Alec Martinez happy to play anywhere
The Kings, who took a bus from Ottawa to Montreal following their 3-2 loss to the Senators on Monday, skated Tuesday at the Canadiens’ spacious practice complex in Brossard, south of downtown Montreal.
Awaiting them were about a dozen local reporters -- more exactly, those reporters were waiting for Jonathan Bernier, who grew up in nearby Laval and on Wednesday will face the team whose iconic uniform he once dreamed of wearing.
“It’s going to be a great night,” said Bernier, who claimed he gave up counting the number of tickets he had arranged for once the number passed 60. “I can’t really put any pressure on myself. It’s another game and I’ve just got to focus on details and not really focus on the big picture -- being in Montreal, in front of my family. I’ve just got to take that as positive.”
He said he had been watching the Canadiens for a long time and that, as a youngster, he envisioned himself in their lineup. “When you’re young you see yourself out there,” he said. “I was hoping to get drafted by Montreal when I was young, but now it’s going to be a great feeling, obviously.”
The game is important for him and for the Kings beyond the homecoming aspect.
“That’s the thing. I don’t want to take all that media thing on me because I’m playing in Montreal, but obviously we’re not playing as good as we want right now, and we’ve got to find a way to turn things around,” he said. “And I think it’s going to be a great challenge tomorrow for us. They’re a great team -- both of us are a great team -- and we’ve just got to stick to our game plan and play the way we’re capable of playing.”
Before they practiced, the Kings recalled defenseman Alec Martinez from Manchester of the American Hockey League and reassigned Jake Muzzin to Manchester. Martinez led the Monarchs with 16 points and -- more importantly -- in power-play goals, with four. The Kings’ power play has struggled lately, and it’s likely Martinez will get some power-play time, though Coach Terry Murray said Tuesday he hadn’t determined his lineup for Wednesday’s game.
Martinez, who made his NHL debut last season, said he drove to Montreal from Manchester and got lost enough to make it about half an hour before practice. “I got a good view of Montreal,” he said.
“I’m just going to do whatever I can to help the team win. Just try to play good hockey, do whatever they ask me to.”
He credited the Manchester forwards’ net presence for his goalscoring success. “I owe it to a lot of forwards, including Dwight King, who is here already,” he said. “I actually joked about it before he got called up that I needed to take him out to lunch because he was pretty much the reason why I scored all of them.”
More later at www.latimes.com/sports
-- Helene Elliott in Montreal
Photo: Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier. Credit: Jason O. Watson / U.S. Presswire