Brian Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky

Flyers should show patience with Sergei Bobrovsky

It’s easy to focus on the negative with Sergei Bobrovsky, especially since he happens to be a Philadelphia Flyers goalie. While some dismiss him as another erratic Philly netminder, Bobrovsky is also a decent goalie who could provide the team with a cheap option in net during his three entry-level seasons.

The Russian rookie netminder flopped badly against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, as he was chased from the Flyers’ net after allowing three goals on nine shots. The bad night reignited discussion of Bobrovsky’s consistency (or lack thereof), but Bob bounced back with a nice 30-save performance in a shootout loss against the Penguins on Thursday.

Of course, playing a good game followed by a bad one and then a good one again isn’t the kind of “consistency” the Flyers are looking for right now, but points out an interesting comparison between Bobrovsky and Antti Niemi. Yet the article also reveals that Bobrovsky isn’t producing results that are that different from his backup Brian Boucher’s numbers.

Does the effort by Bobrovsky officially put to bed any questions about the playoff starter?

Probably not, but keep in mind Antti Niemi finished 26-7-4 with a 2.25 goals-against average and .912 save percentage in his rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks before leading his team to the Stanley Cup in 2010. Bobrovsky is 26-11-6 with a 2.57 GAA and .915 save percentage.

Since the All-Star Break, however, Bobrovsky has gone 5-5-3 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. He’s also compiled a 10-9-4 mark against playoff teams for the season. Keep in mind, he’s never played more than 35 games in a season prior to this year. Boucher, meanwhile, is 17-8-4 with a 2.41 GAA and .915 save percentage this campaign.

While it almost seems like a spring tradition to say that the Flyers’ downfall will begin in net, let’s not forget that Philadelphia got all the way to the Stanley Cup finals with Boucher and Michael Leighton. That doesn’t mean that they’ll make the NHL’s final round again, but they remain a deep and talented team that can go far, even if their willingness to roll with unheralded goalies defies convention.

It remains to be seen if Bobrovsky will be the goalie to get them there, but perhaps a little patience should be in order when it comes to judging Bob.

Benn, Holtby and Galchenyuk are NHL’s three stars of the week

Cory Schneider, Alex Galchenyuk ,
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Stars winger Jamie Benn, Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk have been named the NHL’s three stars for the past week.


Benn shared the League lead in goals (4) and points (6) as the Stars (19-5-0, 38 points) won two of three games to continue their best start to a season in the franchise’s 48-year history.

Holtby posted a 4-0-0 record with a 1.75 goals-against average, .945 save percentage and one shutout to backstop the Capitals (17-5-1, 35 points) to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Galchenyuk tied for first in the NHL with four goals and added one assist to help the Canadiens (18-4-3, 39 points) earn five of a possible six points and reclaim first place in the League standings.

As much as the injuries to Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher have been frustrating for the Canadiens, those are short-term issues that should be forgotten soon enough. Galchenyuk’s play, in contrast, is reason for long-term optimism. The 21-year-old is trending towards becoming the elite No. 1 center the Habs have needed so badly. He’s not there yet, but when’s all said and done, he could turn out to be the best forward (or player, period) taken in the 2012 draft.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs


Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

Carey Price,
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Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 28-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury

Report: Jets offered Byfuglien for Hamonic, Isles said no

Dustin Byfuglien

If Travis Hamonic could choose one team to be traded to, he’d probably choose Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Islanders defenseman wants to be closer to his family, and his family is from Manitoba. Hamonic already owns a condo in Winnipeg.

So far, though, the Jets and Islanders haven’t been able to work out a deal. The Jets have three right-shot defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers who could, theoretically, be swapped for Hamonic, also a right shot.

“I think the Islanders were offered Byfuglien and they said no,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said this morning on Sportsnet 960 (audio), per Today’s Slapshot. “And I understand why, because Byfuglien’s got no term left.

“I think they’d love to have Trouba, but the Jets aren’t really there to do it. Myers, if it’s happened – I can’t say for sure it has or hasn’t – I’m not sure that’s the deal either team really wants to make, to be perfectly honest.”

Byfuglien is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s expected to cash in big-time on his next deal. The 30-year-old may not be the most disciplined player, but at his best, he’s an absolute force on the back end.

That the Isles reportedly said no to Byfuglien shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given his contract uncertainty. However, it does make one wonder about his future in Winnipeg. Remember that the salary cap is not expected to go up by much, and the Jets have another pending UFA in captain Andrew Ladd, plus a couple of key RFAs in Trouba and Mark Scheifele.

While it’s never easy to tell what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is thinking, the big question with Byfuglien and the Jets may end up being when, not if, they part ways. Will it be after the season or before the Feb. 29 trade deadline?