It’s tough to tell how Sergei Bobrovsky should feel this summer.
On one hand, the Russian goalie would be justified in feeling a bit slighted. Bobrovsky burst onto the scene for the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2010-11 season, earning a strong 28-13-8 record with a solid .915 save percentage and 2.59 GAA, but the team gave him a short leash in the playoffs. After losing Game 1 of the Flyers’ first round series against the Buffalo Sabres thanks to Ryan Miller’s brilliance, Bobrovsky had an awful Game 2 in which he allowed three goals on just seven shots. It’s understandable that the Flyers decided to go with Brian Boucher for Game 3, but it seemed a bit harsh to demote Bobrovsky all the way down to third place on the depth chart. Bobrovsky eventually started in the playoffs again, but the Flyers dug themselves too deep a hole to come back against the Boston Bruins at that point.
If that wasn’t enough to leave “Bob” with a bad taste in his mouth during the off-season, the Flyers gave their No.1 goalie keys to Ilya Bryzgalov by trading for him and them handing the more-proven Russian netminder a risky, long-term deal.
That would seem like a slap in the face to some, but others might take a bigger picture viewpoint that Bobrovsky could actually be in the right place in his young career. His rookie season was impressive, but it also seemed like he jumped quite a few steps in his expected development process. Backing up Bryzgalov – or fighting him for starts, depending on how you look at it – might end up being a short-term benefit to Bobrovsky.
It seems like that perspective isn’t lost on Bob, who had an interesting discussion that Dmitry Chensokov translated for Puck Daddy on Tuesday.
And this summer the Flyers signed a contract with Ilya Bryzgalov placing a barrier on the way of a rookie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Actually Bryzgalov’s arrival didn’t shock me. Every newspaper wrote that goaltending is Philadelphia’s weakest spot. Additionally, Ilya was first traded to us and only a week later he signed his contract. It wasn’t a surprise.
I don’t agree about the barrier. Brian Boucher’s(notes) contract expired. Michael Leighton(notes) stayed. Bryzgalov came. But I don’t care what last names team goaltenders have. I have my own goals, objectives. I want to help Philadelphia and will continue to improve my game.
Bobrovsky’s saying all the right things about his situation with Philadelphia. While it’s possible that he might find himself in a different destination at some point in the future thanks to the cost of his entry-level contract and the even larger commitment the Flyers made to Breezy, Philly would be wise to keep Bob in the fold as an insurance policy. Other NHL teams have benefited from having a strong backup behind a franchise starter; Tuukka Rask and Cory Schneider provided valuable rest for Tim Thomas and Roberto Luongo last season (just to name two).
Moving on, the other interesting nugget reveals that you might be able to pinpoint at least some of Bobrovsky’s late-season and playoff struggles to fatigue.
The fact that you deflated in the second half of last season — is it connected to the fact that you “had had too much hockey?”
I think so. It turned out that by November I had been playing hockey for five months. And then the rollercoaster started: up and down. But I am not going to look for excuses for my shortcomings. This is my life and I set up the preparations myself. And I alone am responsible. I simply came to some conclusions and this summer I decided to make some changes.
If you ask me, the Flyers mishandled Bobrovsky’s situation in the playoffs, taking excessively punitive measures with a goalie who helped them win the Atlantic Division. That being said, this situation might end up being beneficial to both sides, even if Bob probably wants to be the No. 1 goalie next season.
You never know if public statements actually match deeper feelings, but if his statements are truthful, then it seems like Bobrovsky has a healthy attitude about a tough situation. If nothing else, these signs of maturity might justify the Flyers’ thoughts that he could be their goalie of the future.