NEW YORK — It might be time for Boston Bruins goaltender Manny Fernandez to take a page out of Earl Hickey’s book — or at least a page out of his list.
On the hit show “My Name Is Earl,” Hickey, played by Jason Lee, has a list of bad things he’s done to people and he goes around righting his wrongs to get karma to flow in his favor.
Since his return to full health Feb. 7, bad karma has been kicking Fernandez’s butt. And in a 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers today at Madison Square Garden, bad karma scored a decisive TKO. Now it’s up to Fernandez to pick himself up off the mat.
“It’s just a big adventure, what’s going on for me. It’s stuff that you don’t see very often. It just happens,” a frustrated Fernandez said after the defeat. “The only way I can see is keep working as hard as you can. It’s costing this team some valuable points. I don’t want to take too much on my shoulders, but I’ve got to find a way to turn this around.”
Fernandez, now winless in five games since his return from back problems with 19 goals allowed, thought that all his hard work in practice would right his ship. But the bad breaks just keep on coming. Today three fluky goals found the net behind Fernandez, starting with a power-play goal by Scott Gomez that deflected off the netminder’s pad. Gomez skated to the net from below the goal line before shooting.
“I can’t catch a break, whatever I do. I try to go for the pass, he’s going to go short-side. I felt like my pads were right on the post. … Normally it’s not an issue. But right now, the way things are going, I don’t want to pound my head, but I’ve got to turn back my season and go to work again,” said Fernandez. “I thought I’ve been working really hard in practice. It’s not even a matter of the good shots. It’s the stuff that you don’t see very often.”
Then came a goal that’s still tough to explain. Basically, Ryan Callahan’s shot became entangled in Fernandez’s equipment. That’s where the puck left everyone’s sight, except the officials. I’ll let Fernandez describe the rest.
“He doesn’t blow the whistle, so I thought I lost it. I thought it fell behind me for some reason,” he recalled. “And I don’t know what I was doing. Usually you blow the whistle on that. He didn’t. So I thought I lost it. So I let go to try to find it.”
After the Bruins rallied to tie the game at 3 in the third, bad karma’s right cross landed on Fernandez’s chin. Marc Staal’s shoot-in from straight ahead down the left wing hopped off the lively glass right to Nikolai Zherdev streaking down the right side for the stuff-in.
“I don’t know how that gets over. He’s straight in front of the net, and it goes way left to the guy. I should know better and I should play that puck. For some reason, I overplay that first shot again and it comes back to bite me. It finds a way to get in,” said Fernandez.
Although Fernandez might’ve been taking an inordinate amount of the blame on his shoulders, his attitude is something head coach Claude Julien hopes sets an example for the entire squad.
“He’s always hard on himself. That’s just the way he is,” said the coach. “We talk about some tough goals, and yeah there were some tough goals, but we still had a chance to win. If everybody is hard on themselves and wants to do something about it, as much as he does, we’ll be OK.”
It couldn’t hurt either to make a list of any transgressions Fernandez has made against the hockey gods and right them soon. Or bad karma could cost the Bruins their seeding for the playoffs.