TORONTO – This was what Jonathan Bernier wanted all along. This is what he pined for as the backup in Los Angeles, stuck for years in the shadow of Jonathan Quick. And yet now that hes finally gripped hold of his first No. 1 job in the NHL, the 25-year-old knows that satisfaction is far from being attained. "Things can change," he said, mindfully. "You can be a No. 1 for 10 years and then next day, youre a backup. My goal is not to be a No.1 for a year or half a season, I want to be a good goalie for a long time, hopefully." Just 33 starts into that quest – by far the most of his NHL career – Bernier is off to a fine beginning. Starting for the 13th time in the past 17 games against the Lightning on Tuesday night, Bernier stopped 40 shots, including one of game-saving proportions on Martin St. Louis in the final moments. It was the kind of load-bearing performance that has become more norm than exception for Bernier, who is tied for sixth in the NHL in save percentage and fourth in even-strength save percentage among goaltenders with at least 20 starts. "When I got traded, I knew that was my chance to prove what I can do in this league," said Bernier, who is 5-1-0 in his last six starts. "My main focus was always to be a No. 1 guy and Ive still got a lot to learn, but I think Im moving towards that." He and James Reimer traded starts until mid-December before the crease eventually tilted in favour of the Laval, Quebec native. His performance month-to-month has rarely wavered – .933 save percentage in October, .923 in November, .932 in December and .915 so far in January. "I knew Randy, the type of coach he was," said Bernier of head coach Randy Carlyle, "I knew I had to really battle to earn [the job] which is the good way. You dont want anything for free in life. [But] I didnt really focus on how many games I was playing, I think I was just focusing on getting better every day and every game and it just worked out that I started playing good and he kept me in." Maybe most notable in his year-long efforts has been his ability to withstand a nightly barrage of shots and chances, a far cry from the Kings, who were a constant amongst the NHLs best defensive teams. In fact, Bernier is facing 11 more shots per start this season with the Leafs (35) than a year ago in Los Angeles. He sits a sparkling 7-1-2 when challenged with 40 shots or more. "I think we can still improve as a team," he said honestly of the groups performance. "[Were] still giving up a lot of scoring chances, especially I thought last game wasnt our best one, but were coming out with wins. I think if we want to be successful in the playoffs – Ive been through that – youve really got to bear down defensively and be a good defensive team." Though the goalie competition has gradually evolved into a one-man job, Bernier understands that he is a long ways from proven as a No. 1 starter in this league. But he also carries a certain degree of pride and quiet confidence knowing that hes accomplished what he set out to do upon landing in Toronto. "Its not like I said yesterday I made it, Im a No. 1, I think youre just going day by day," he said. "Obviously, Im happy the way things turned out." Tommy Kelly Jersey. The Wizards announced Monday that they have cut ties with guards Shannon Brown, Malcolm Lee and Kendall Marshall. The moves were expected. Devin McCourty Jersey. Nabokov was hurt during Saturdays game against the Detroit Red Wings. A timetable for his return was not revealed, but Islanders coach Jack Capuano on Saturday indicated it could be a "couple of weeks. Head coach Marc Trestman told the media on Monday that Calvillo will undergo an MRI on his sore left shoulder. During Fridays win over Winnipeg Blue Bombers, Calvillo hurt the shoulder sliding to the ground and being hit by a Bombers player. Kenbrell Thompkins Jersey. A report posted on the Denver Posts website Monday night says Roys younger brother, Stephane Roy, leaked the impending announcement. James Develin Jersey. You can watch the pre-game show now on TSN2, followed by the game on TSN at 7pm et/4pm pt. One night after netting a career-best 38 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, the Lincredible run continued in Minnesota, as the point guard from nowhere scored 20 points, including a go ahead free throw with 4.SPA, Belgium -- British driver Jenson Button ended a three-year wait for pole position by finishing fastest in Belgian Grand Prix qualifying, while defending champion Sebastian Vettel will start Sundays race from 10th place. Button, who won the seasons opening GP in Australia, overcame earlier balance problems to grab his first pole of the season on Saturday, the eighth of his career and his first ever in his 50th race for McLaren. "Its been quite a long time since I got my last pole position, back in 2009 in Monaco. Its been emotional," said Button, who won the F1 title that year with the Brawn team. "Maybe a five-week break between every race is what I need ... Im getting old now." The 32-year-old Button seemed to be struggling earlier in the day with the understeering of his car, but got it right when it mattered with a best lap of 1 minute, 47.573 seconds. "A great qualifying session, the engineers have really been on it today," Button said. "I just got the balance right. We just tickled it, especially through qualifying. The balance is to my liking. Its difficult to find a car that works for me in qualifying but when it does we get pole position." Button, vying for his 14th GP win, is seventh in the championship and 88 points behind overall leader Fernando Alonso of Spain. "I think Ill have to finish ahead of Fernando in every race from now on to finish ahead of him," Button said. It has been one of the most unpredictable seasons for years, and that trend looks set to continue in Spa with unheralded driver Kamui Kobayashi of Japan starting second place. "In yesterdays practice we really struggled a lot, but this morning we improved a lot," said Kobayashi, who got his best ever qualifying position. "We didnt really know how much the track conditions would improve. Tomorrow is a different story, and we need to fight." Kobayashi is only the second Japanesee driver to start on the front row after Takuma Sato in 2004 at the Nurburgring.dddddddddddd Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela posted the third fastest time in qualifying, but he was demoted three grid positions to sixth for holding up Force Indias Nico Hulkenberg on a turn, meaning that Kimi Raikkonen moves up one place to third, Sergio Perez goes to fourth and Alonso to fifth. Maldonado, who won the Spanish GP in May, nevertheless showed the potential of the Williams car, and was quickest in the first qualifying session. "I adapted to the different conditions," Maldonado said before learning of his penalty. Vettels bid to catch Alonso looks to have taken another blow, while his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber will start the race with a five-place grid penalty, knocking him down from seventh to 12th, with McLarens Lewis Hamilton moving up from eighth to seventh. "There was no problem, I just wasnt quick enough," said Vettel, who is 42 points adrift of Alonso overall. "The speed wasnt there." Hamilton, who is fourth overall, has vowed to work for Button on Sunday. "It has not been a great qualifying session for me," Hamilton said. "I will try and do as best I can to back Jenson up tomorrow." Alonso posted the fastest time in Saturdays third practice, where drivers frantically fine-tuned their cars for qualifying. Heavy rain marred Fridays two practice runs, restricting drivers to a handful of laps, so the emphasis was on cramming as much testing as possible with the Spa circuit splashed in bright sunshine and completely dry. Some drivers found themselves at odds with their cars as they tried to compensate for lost time on Friday. Button had complained to his McLaren team that "weve got to look at the balance," while Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg pulled out after five laps, and his day got worse as he incurred a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change. ' ' '