For just the fourth time all season, Curtis McElhinney will start in goal for the Columbus Blue Jackets when they host Los Angeles tonight.
The Jackets have ridden Sergei Bobrovsky for most of their nine-game winning streak. McElhinney (1-0-2, .930) got the nod Dec. 3 in a 3-2 shootout win over Arizona. But he’s been watching from the bench ever since.
Bobrovsky’s workload is always a popular topic given his history of groin injuries. So far this season, he’s 19-5-2 with a .932 save percentage, one of the biggest reasons for his team’s success.
“Bob is our No. 1 goalie and we’re going to monitor the situation very close . . . to make sure we don’t overload him or overwork him,” general manager Jarmo Kekalainen told the Columbus Dispatch in late November. “But he’s going to play most of our games no matter who our backup is.”
Here’s more, from a New York Times story on the surprising Jackets:
“Bobrovsky has a chip on his shoulder,” (head coach John) Tortorella said. “He’s probably one of the hardest, most concentrated players I’ve ever seen. I had a goalie in New York, (Henrik) Lundqvist, very similar. He’s been the backbone of our team. I’m proud of him, because that was hard for him last year. He was either hurt or he was average, and he knew it.”
Known for his lightning-fast reflexes, Bobrovsky has been plagued by groin injuries in his career. But this year, he changed some workout habits and lost about 17 pounds of lean muscle in the off-season.
Columbus hosts Los Angeles tonight, Pittsburgh Thursday, and Montreal Friday before entering the Christmas break. Bobrovsky will likely start against both the Penguins and Canadiens. He’s already played five times on consecutive days this season. Earlier this month, he started a game in Detroit, then started the next night in Columbus, and won them both.
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