John Tortorella is famous for riding his best players and giving them a ton of ice time.
Or maybe the word is infamous.
Regardless, Tortorella is doing it again. The Columbus head coach has given goalie Sergei Bobrovsky all seven starts this season, including three in four nights last week at Los Angeles, San Jose, and Anaheim.
So far, Bobrovksy has responded well to the challenge. He earned a 35-save shutout in Friday’s 4-0 victory over the Ducks, improving his save percentage to a very impressive .940. He also had a shutout last Saturday in Dallas.
“(Bobrovsky’s) been solid right on through,” Tortorella said, per the club’s website. “That’s what we talked about in the third period, let’s play for him a little bit here and try to help because he’s bailed us out along the way.”
Still, it will be interesting to see how much work Curtis McElhinney gets as the season progresses. McElhinney went 2-7-3 with an .890 save percentage last season, so Tortorella’s reluctance to play his backup is understandable. Certainly, one could argue that sending Bobrovsky out there game after game gives the Jackets their best chance at making the playoffs.
But then, it could also be argued that playing Bobrovsky too much increases the risk of injury and/or fatigue. And when young Joonas Korpisalo returns from his groin injury, which should be soon, that may be another reason to give Bobrovsky a break.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, Tortorella intends to give Bobrovsky 58-60 starts this season. But knowing Tortorella, if Bobrovsky stays healthy and keeps playing well, that number could easily be higher when all’s said and done.
“I’m not going to worry about what other people do with their goalies,” the coach said. “Bob is in great shape. He wants to play.”
The Jackets’ next game is tomorrow at home to Dallas. After that, they play back-to-back Friday and Saturday, at home to Montreal and on the road in St. Louis.