On Saturday, a 26-save shootout shutout of the talented New York Rangers was a reminder to the league that the Bruins new netminder will be big factor during the 2007-08 campaign.
"I think tonight his performance was good for a lot of different reasons," said B's head coach Claude Julien. "We definitely (knew) that he’s capable of that kind of game and it’s certainly good for his confidence.
"It’s good for the team because it’s (increased our) confidence.
"It doesn’t matter who you put in net right now; they’re both very good," he said.
Yes, they are.
|Manny vs. Jaromir: Fernandez wins. |
The Bruins, currently in second in the Northeast Division, tied for fourth in the Eastern Conference and tied for sixth in the NHL, also boast Tim Thomas
who is first in goals-against-average (1.26) and save percentage (.962). Coupled with Fernandez, the B's puck stoppers are ranked 7th overall with a 2.12 GAA and a .927 SV %.
"We’ve talked about that since day one and I guess everybody’s been kind of making it a story about Timmy (Thomas) playing so well and Manny having a slow start," said Julien. "But, hopefully, tonight (showed) the kind of goaltending that we’ve talked about.
"It doesn’t matter who you put in, they’re going to do their job."
For his part, Fernandez was not ready to proclaim anything besides thanks and patience. Like his partner Thomas, he praised the men in front of him and the coaching staff.
"We need to acknowledge that the team played really well defensively tonight," he said. "We have been really strong since the beginning of the year.
"It allows us to get into the game a little quicker.
"I think tonight was a step in the right direction -- a confidence builder," Manny said.
Admittedly, the first few games of his Bruins career were less than smooth for the cat-like keeper.
"It has been kind of rough," said Fernandez, almost under his breath. "(It felt like) any time that you needed a couple of shots to get started, they are not coming.
"And if they are there you better be aware that it is going to be a tip or stuff like that.
"(But) you kind of create stuff like that mentally."
Anyone who ran into Fernandez over the last couple of weeks could see that the veteran goalie was pressing. That is why working with Bruins goaltending coach Bob Essensa, a former NHL netminder, has been key to his own quick turnaround.
"He’s tremendous," said Manny. "(Working with) a goalie is harder because you need to work with them mentally.
"The mindset of a goaltender is 90% of the job.
"For him to sit down with me and talk has been great (because) he’s able to understand what I’m going through and apply what he has done in the past to get through these slumps," he said.
Now over the start of season speed bumps, both Bruins goalies have a decent chance of starting on every given night and if the B's backstops keep playing at this level, it will be opposing shooters who'll be looking for someone to talk to.