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Despite Loss, Boston's Goalies are Keepers

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Tuukka Rask makes a save against the New Jersey Devils.
Manchester, NH --
Manny Fernandez and Tuukka Rask both admitted that they let in a softie last night against the Devils, but their new coach thought their performance in the B's second exhibition contest was anything but.

"I think our goaltending was fine, tonight," said Bruins head coach Claude Julien of Fernandez and Rask's performance Thursday night in Manchester.

Assessing the activity of the franchise's biggest summer acquisition, the coach believed that the one goal that did get by Manny was not his fault.

"That one goal on Fernandez -- from the bench it looked like he might have been screened by our defenseman on that shot," explained Julien. "And it was a perfect shot, just inside the post, so I think in regards to that (one), I don't think he had much of a chance.

Rask, who said he fought some butterflies when he took the ice, did just fine by his coach.

"This was Tuukka's first game in the NHL and he made some great saves," said Julien.

Both goalies made some pretty good stops, in fact, and both came away wishing they could have one back, but both weregenuinely happy with their first performance.

"It's, obviously, early," said Fernandez and he pulled off his equipment after the game. "I had a couple of plays where I liked what I saw and a couple of plays (where there) was stuff that I had to work on.

"Little stuff."

Rask was reserved, but confident.

"I think it went well," said Tuukka. "My first NHL exhibition game, you know.

"I haven't played at that level for a long time."

Neither goalie looked awkward or out of place. Rask did not look like a rookie, and Manny did not belie any lingering effects from his injury.

"At this time of the year it's tough to be 100% all around. But as time goes on, I think I am going to be stronger and stronger. I think this was a good first step," he said, before admitting that he wished he could have the John Pelley goal back.

"After allowing a softie, I was happy to get a chance to redeem myself," said Manny, who did stop the next shot he faced, off a breakaway. "It's all about how you react to those kind of situations."

According to that criterion, Rask's debut was a success, as well.

"That third goal was, obviously, a weak goal," said Tuukka of Barry Tallackson's shot that snuck through Rask's right pad and the post. "(Carol Rachunek's) I didn't see well.

"I think it got tipped in…I heard a click and a post, and I thought it wasn't in, but it obviously was."

What was also obvious was the skill and positive attitude possessed by the rookie netminder.

"I think I got a good start," said the youngster, with a smile. "I'm happy.

"It's fun to play against…those guys who have played in the NHL for so many years and see what the level (of play) is in the NHL and how good those guys are.

"And I saw that I can be here and play at (this) level," said Rask.

For his part, Manny has already proven that he can play at a very high level, and those notions were not dispelled by the Devils, whose confidence in his new team and new defensive corps remains high.

"We have a good lineup," said Manny. "Defensively we looked very strong…and from what I saw the guys were trying to keep the other team (shooting) from the outside, which I like.

"And I saw a lot of blocked shots.

"But that's part of the game, getting to know (your new teammates) and for them to get to know me," he said.

Even though it was just an exhibition game, it's clear that the more Bruins fans get to know Manny and Tuukka, they are going to be pleased to have "met" them -- even though opposing shooters may not have the same sentiment.
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