I walked into Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington earlier today and was greeted by the much-missed sound of pucks hitting pads and glass.
Boston Bruins goalie guru Bob Essensa is running his goaltending camp this week and with several members of the Black & Gold arriving for informal skates, Manny Fernandez, Tim Thomas
, Tuukka Rask
and Kevin Regan all saw plenty of pucks.
Overall, “Goalie Bob” (as he is known around the Wilmington and the TD Banknorth Garden) was pleased with his campers and his being able to hold his camp locally this year.
“We went to Calgary last year,” explained Essensa of his camp. “We had three or four different guys get together last year.
“Logistically, it just made more sense to do something for our guys here.
“So I got some ice and got our goalies together,” he said.
All four Bruins backstops looked healthy and ready for the season.
“The summer was good,” said Rask as he rested up between skates. “But I’ve been here for a week now (and) I’ve been skating for three weeks in Finland, so that helped.
“I just want to be ready when the camp starts because our games come pretty quick and I want to be ready when that comes, too.”
Rask fessed up to the fact that he has some non-hockey reasons for his welcoming the return to New England.
“I like the city and the weather is nice here,” he said with a smile. “In Finland it starts getting really cold.”
|Manny Fernandez |
Much like Thomas, Fernandez, was able to take some time away from the game.
“We got a cottage up north that we built this summer, so a lot of the time was spent going back and forth making sure that things were the way I wanted,” he said. “I took some time off during the weekends to go on a lake, so it was good.
“I got my mind clear and am focused for this season.”
Fernandez said that he was actually a little too ready to get into a game.
“My game juices are going to be flowing a little too much,” said Manny. “I’m going to have to ease back on it a little bit.
“The excitement and everything is going to be there since it hasn’t been there for a while, so it’s a matter of…making sure that my (technique) is good and that I am playing my game.”
Fernandez said that his body is healthy, too.
“Physically there’s no problem at all,” he said. “It’s going to be a long road to get back (to form) and to get back to (game) shape, but I think hard work and focus is the way to get in there and compete.”
At this point in September, that’s where pretty much everyone is at, but Coach Essensa thought that having the goalies into his camp was a good springboard for the real training camp.
“We are easing them in, letting them see some rubber, letting their timing come back a bit,” said Essensa, who agreed that the age and experience level of the goaltenders should make for some healthy competition for crease time.
“Absolutely -- it’s a great position to be in for our organization,” he said. “We’ve got two real good young goaltenders (in Rask and Regan) and we’ve got a couple of veteran guys (in Fernandez and Thomas) who, if they are both healthy and on top of their game, should create an awesome competitive environment for us.
“And that, from (a coaching) perspective is a good thing.”An informal scrimmage…Zdeno Chara
was seen in the building, but did not participate in an informal scrimmage, which did include goalies, Fernandez, Regan and Rask, as well as skaters Andrew Alberts, Andrew Bodnarchuk
, P.J. Axelsson, David Krejci
, Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic
, Brad Marchand
, Shane Hnidy, Marc Savard
, Mark Stuart, Marco Sturm and Nate Thompson.