Montreal, QC -
|Boston Bruins goalie Manny Fernandez watches during the first full day of the NHL hockey team's training camp in Boston on Saturday, Sept. 20, 2008. Fernandez missed most of last season with an injury. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) |
Despite a 3-1 loss to the Canadiens Wednesday night, Bruins goalie Manny Fernandez scored a personal victory in his continued effort to return from injury when he made 25 saves in a very strong effort in front of a sold out Bell Center in Montreal.
“He was very good tonight,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “I think that is extremely encouraging.
“Manny played the whole game and looked good from start to finish.”
Fernandez, 34, who missed much of last year, had to be sharp against the Habs, who fired 28 shots against the veteran netminder.
“It felt all right,” said Fernandez in the visiting locker room, postgame. “There were definitely some ups-and-downs in my game that I have to correct, but I thought I had a strong first period.”
Fernandez was perfect in the first, and stopped all 11 shots he faced, including a spectacular sliding half-split save on Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec for the Canadiens first shot of the game.
“Nerves,” was what Fernandez said he was feeling as he saw Alex Kovalev set up Plekanec. “100% nerves.
“On that first one, that’s not the shot you would ask for, but if I could have thrown anything at them (to try and stop it) I would have.
“I just tried to get my body in front of it and until it touched me I was kind of looking all over the place trying to find it,” he said.
After that save Fernandez settled in.
“That’s the kind of save you need at the beginning of the game to get you going a little bit,” he explained. “When (you stop one) of their best guys in a situation like that, usually that tells you what your game is going to look like.”
|Boston Bruins goaltender Manny Fernandez, left, looks for the puck as Montreal Canadiens' Tomas Plekanec moves in for the rebound during third-period NHL preseason hockey action in Montreal, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press,Graham Hughes) |
The second period was very difficult for the Bruins as Montreal scored three power play goals.
“I have to say that I am not happy with the way I came out in the second period,” said Fernandez. “I think I have to try and stay focused for more than one period and try and stay relatively strong the whole game.”
“Obviously, with those power play goals, sometimes there is not much you can do about it,” said Julien, who thought that his goalie was strong throughout the match. “We watched the tape and (Fernandez) never saw a thing.
“But I don’t mind (Fernandez being hard on himself). I’d rather players are hard on themselves, rather than us be hard on them because they are not accepting their responsibilities or they are finding excuses.
“But we’ll settle him down and make sure he knows that he is on the right track,” he said.
Fernandez teammates may have already started that “settling down” process and were very pleased what they saw in the Bruins crease.
“I think he played really good and made a lot of good saves,” said forward P. J. Axelsson. “He was a little unlucky with those rebounds that were right on someone’s stick…but other than that he played really well.”
“I think he looked good tonight,” said defenseman Matt Hunwick. “He made a lot of good saves and was able to keep us in it (even though) we didn’t have our best penalty kill.
“But as far as five-on-five he was outstanding.
“I think you almost forget that he hasn’t played,” he said.
“He was awesome and made some unbelievable saves – especially in the first period,” said B’s captain Zdeno Chara
. “He really kept us in the game.
“The first goal he could not see…the second one he really couldn’t stop that one and the third one was on a rebound, too.
“But he had a really good, really strong game,” he said.
Despite the initially harsh self-critique, and perhaps due some encouragement from management and teammates, Fernandez knows that he has made a big stride in his recovery.
“I said that I wasn’t going to look at the outcome (on the scoreboard),” said the goalie. “Overall, I am reassured that I see little bits of my game coming back.
“I left it all out there and that’s what I wanted.
“You get back in shape and push it a little further, a little further and a little further until it comes easy,” he said.
Fernandez indicated that nothing was easy – not yet.
“So, I’ll rehydrate tonight and get a good practice in tomorrow,” he said.
Fernandez and the rest of the B’s return to practice in Wilmington, Thursday at 11:30 a.m.