There’s hardly been anything to dislike about the way the Boston Bruins’ netminders have performed this season. Through the season’s first 41 games, Tim Thomas — an All-Star for the second straight season — and Manny Fernandez have been the preeminent tandem in the entire NHL. Some might even give them the bulk of the credit for the team’s astounding 30-7-4 start.
Here’s my midseason report card for the Bruins’ goaltenders:
Tim Thomas: A-minus
As the only one of the two Bruins netminders to get pulled from a game, Thomas just misses a perfect grade. Although getting yanked that night (Dec. 18 vs. Toronto) wasn’t completely Thomas’ fault, it was the lone off night for either puck-stopper since October. Still, Thomas ranks fourth in goals-against average (2.13) and third in save percentage (.932). And he’s finally earned the respect of his peers and the league, as proven by his All-Star nod with the first batch of reserves (as opposed to last year when he was an injury replacement).
Manny Fernandez: A-minus
Only a shaky start to his season costs Fernandez a perfect grade. It’s hard to believe, watching Fernandez perform at the top of his game now, that he actually started the season 1-1-1. He was also the recipient of some great offensive support that allowed him to find his groove and gain confidence early (he won games 5-4, 6-1, 7-4, 7-2). But none of that takes away from his unbeatable performances, including his shutout of Florida and scintillating one-goal win over Atlanta. Fernandez is second in GAA (2.07) and fifth in save percentage (.928). Most important, he’s gained the confidence of his teammates — a feat Thomas’ previous partners often struggled to achieve.