With Leighton injured for the first 2+ months of the season, everyone expected Boucher to be the starting goalie for the Flyers. There was an outside shot the Backlund would be fighting for the top job as well. Instead, Sergei Bobrovsky was in net when the puck dropped in Pittsburgh on opening day. He split time with Boucher, until finally taking control of the starting job. And so far, he’s done far more than anyone expected of him. He’s gotten better and better, playing extremely well behind a solid D. There’s nothing more discouraging than a netminder that gives up weak goals when the rest of the team is playing well (cough, Leighton in Game 6, cough). Bobrovsky hasn’t done anything like that this season.
He’s top 10 in GAA and SV%, and tied for first in wins. More importantly, he’s not giving up anything at crucial times. There were a few goals he gave up in the last minute or two, but the game was already in hand. And we can blame the players in front of him a bit for that. Lately, the Flyers have built up a nice cushion, and sat back during the third period. They let the play come to them, and face a lot more shots in the third period than in the previous two. Still, it would be nice for Bob to finally get a shutout. He was close in the last two games.
The first goal against Florida should have been reviewed. Stillman looked like he tipped the puck with a high stick, but nobody bothered to review it. That cut the score to 5-1, and there wasn’t really much incentive to play hard defense after that. The second goal was the first time I saw Bob let something in that he should have stopped. Santorelli came down the side and just beat him with a shot that should have been easily stopped. It was a bit out of the norm, and I hoped it wouldn’t be the start of a downward trend.
Unfortunately, the lone goal against Ottawa was also fluky, and could have been stopped. Kovalev lost control of the puck, it went to Spezza, and he tucked it through Bobrovsky’s legs. I guess I’m used to seeing his super quick, last second reactions to stop pucks, and this was kind of a let down. I’m not blaming him, though.
Still, as well as he’s played, he deserves to get a clean sheet. It’s not easy, as we can already tell, but if the defense can buckle down a bit harder, and close out a game, it can be done.
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Topics: Alexei Kovalev, Brian Boucher, Corey Stillman, Florida Panthers, Jason Spezza, Johan Backlund, Michael Leighton, Mike Santorelli, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sergei Bobrovsky, Shutout