Sergei Bobrovsky started out the season on a tear after coming out of nowhere. He was atop the leaderboards in all major statistics for the first 2 months of the season. In December he came back down to Earth, before regaining form and playing pretty well. Lately, he’s been up and down, which of course raises questions in this town.
Tim Panaccio believes in going with Bob to start the playoffs because if he falters, Boucher will come in with a good mindset. He thinks if Bob is relegated to backup duty, and we need him to take over, that he won’t be mentally prepared. I know Panotch is around the guys more, talks to them, gets a feel for their real personality. But he doesn’t speak Russian; I do. When Bob gives an interview, the translators do a very good job of interpreting, but it’s not 100% dead on accurate.
He never makes excuses, never passes the blame, and doesn’t care about hoopla. His demeanor and outlook are always the same: I want to play, I have to be ready to play whenever the coach asks, and I have to stop everything. He never flips out at players crashing his crease, he never points at his defensemen after a goal when they missed something, he never breaks his stick in frustration. He’s not a headcase whose mental state we have to worry about. Which leaves us with his physical attributes:
He’s given up some soft goals here and there. It happens. Unfortunately, yesterday against the Capitals he gave up 2.5 soft ones all in one game. I say 2.5 because the 3rd goal was deflected, but still went through him, so it’s arguable as to whether he was able to react in time to the change of direction. That’s not the way we would have liked him to follow up a strong performance against Dallas on Saturday. Is it his positioning, is it his vision, is it something else that causes these goals? I think it’s about positioning mostly, which is something he continues to work on.
We all praise his agility and reflexes. He usually reads plays well and manages to react to almost everything humanly possible. But the soft goals he gives up are the ones headed right at him. He gets into a position to allow a puck to hit him, and somehow things get through. The only way to really fix that is to study tapes, work on angles, and work on his body positioning in reaction to shots coming from different area’s.
So we circle back to the main point: should we be worried? No! Last night was an aberration. He’s a good, solid goalie that we can rely on. Our defense generally doesn’t hang him, or Boosh, out to dry. On the rare occasion that it happens, he’s adept at making the key saves. And I don’t believe these softies will develop into a trend that will ruin our playoff dreams.
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