Fernandez, displaying a grin for the first time in a long while, said that after a session of practice shots from the coaches, “I’m ready for the NHL.”
He better be. After all, the B’s obviously felt confident enough to send young Tuukka Rask
, who shut out the New York Rangers 1-0 last Saturday, back to the P-Bruins.
“It feels good,” said Fernandez, whose injury had been characterized as general soreness. “It feels like I’ve got range and that I can get into a [full] practice.
“We used [the All-Star] break to give it a rest and give it some special attention.
“It feels better…so hopefully that opens the door,” he said.
After taking a break with the rest of the league, Fernandez returned to the ice last weekend.
“[Saturday] it was just John Whitesides and I,” said the goalie. “It was more moving around and my day was in the gym, really.
“I strapped on the pads just to move around a little bit and get the feel a little bit. Today was the first day where I took…shots.”
Asked, point blank, if he were ready to relieve Tim Thomas
if anything were to happen in Philadelphia or Ottawa, Fernandez cut the question short and said, “I’m ready to go.”
“I felt like I was ready to go a few days ago,” he added. “But I think the main goal was to get my back as strong as possible before getting out on the ice.
“So, I think we’ve accomplished that over the week.”
Fernandez reminded the gathered press that this is really a pretty quick recovery from his surgery last year.
“My body needs to get into the rhythm again, where it needs to practice everyday and it needs endurance,” he explained. “We knew that [a little difficulty] would be coming. This is the halfway point, so it was kind of a good time with the All-Star break to rest it a little bit and get going for the second half.”
Despite the minor setbacks, Fernandez said he was “surprised it’s been going so well this year.
“[The knee] got strong and my legs got strong and I could feel that I had really gotten over the injury and the surgery.
“My knee feels so much better and my back started to be an issue and we addressed it and now it feels better.”
Fernandez did admit that having two outstanding goaltenders to rely on when he was ailing has helped.
“It’s good,” he said. “We didn’t have any doubts on Timmy, but for Tuukka to come up here and play as well as he did, I think that’s refreshing.
“The kid’s right on the doorstep.”