J-F Berube’s stats through his first two games with the Reign are, to put it bluntly, pretty bad: 0-2-0, a 4.55 goals-against average, and an .830 save percentage. The Kings’ fourth-round draft pick (2009) figures to get another chance at his first ECHL win this weekend against either Stockton on Friday or Colorado on Saturday.
The good news, from Berube’s perspective, is that he’s getting better with each start.
“I’m improving and I feel a lot better,” he said. “I’m not too worried about my performances. There’s a lot of positive things and some negative that I have to work on. I have to build on the positive ones. I feel confident. It’s only two games.”
The 21-year-old said that the final score Saturday in Las Vegas, 4-1 in favor of the Wranglers, “doesn’t even tell my performance. I was able to see the puck a lot better.”
Two Vegas goals, he said, came as a result of shots from the point. Berube also allowed a two goals (out of five total) from beyond the faceoff circles during his opening-night loss to the Bakersfield Condors. He admits that he’s typically stronger handling shots from closer range than at a distance — which is a bit counter-intuitive — but part of the problem has been Berube’s ability to deal with traffic in front of him.
At a lanky 6-foot-1 and 170 pounds, he’s not going to manhandle too many power forwards wandering through his crease, even ECHL power forwards. Ron Hextall isn’t the Kings’ minor-league goalie instructor but Kim Dillabaugh is. Dillabaugh will be in town starting tomorrow, and improving Berube’s ability to see pucks in traffic should be near the top of the to-do list.
Still, there’s a greater responsibility on the Reign defensemen to clear opponents out of the way so Berube can see the puck better, and block as many shots as possible from far range.
“When you’re away from the game and there’s traffic in front you have to battle a little more,” he said. “That was just one of the little things I have to work on this week and the upcoming week, to stop those pucks that came in.”
A few more notes: