Tag: starting goalies

Brian Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky

Sergei Bobrovsky is the odds-on Game 4 starter for Philly; Can the Flyers come back again?


Despite my bigger picture positivity about the team’s philosophies toward goaltending, there’s little doubt that the Philadelphia Flyers have mishandled their situation in the 2011 playoffs.

If you ask me, the biggest mistake was that the team didn’t use the same wait-and-see approach with Sergei Bobrovsky as they did with Brian Boucher. I understand that Boucher is the more experienced goalie, but the man named “Bob” was a huge reason why this team won the Atlantic Division title in 2010-11.

Bobrovsky earned an nice 28-13-8 record with a slightly above average 91.5 save percentage and 2.59 GAA this season. He was clearly the No. 1 in Philly, earning 20 more appearances than Boucher.

Sure, Bobrovsky had an awful game-and-a-half to start the team’s first round series in the Buffalo Sabres, but Boucher was the goat in two out of three games against the Bruins in Round 2. Sarah Baicker of CSN Philly reports that Bobrovsky is likely to get the start in Game 4, but the obvious question is whether it will be too little, too late.

Let’s take a quick look at the similarities and differences between Philly’s situation in these consecutive 3-0 deficits.

What’s similar

  • Boucher has been weak-to-awful against Boston once again. Boucher lost all three games in this year’s series, didn’t make it through two of those contests and allowed 12 goals overall. He was a bit better last year, going 2-3, although one of his wins was in relief in that Game 7 comeback. He allowed 15 goals in those four full starts, so maybe the Bruins just have his number.
  • Bobrovsky = Michael Leighton? Last time around, Boucher was injured and gave way for Leighton, a relative unknown who helped spur a Flyers comeback. Could Bob have a little more luck against Boston? It’s possible, although he’s probably a more “known entity” than Leighton was in some ways.

How this year is different.

  • Chris Pronger isn’t healthy. If you ask me, a great case could be made for Pronger to be a three-time Conn Smythe winner, even in two losing efforts. He willed the Edmonton Oilers to a full seven-game series against the Carolina Hurricanes with Jussi Markkanen behind him. He was a big reason the Anaheim Ducks won a Cup and was a huge difference maker last year, too. Simply put, a near-100 percent Pronger can make a weak goalie look good. That happened last year, but injuries are keeping him from being a security blanket for Philly this time.
  • The Flyers are a mess. The Pronger point probably bleeds into this one, but the Flyers don’t have the same mojo. Last year, they went into the playoffs on a hot streak. This year, they backed in. That indicates that, despite their deep reserve of talent, Philly just isn’t playing their best hockey right now.
  • Two blowouts already. The Bruins did built a 3-0 lead in ’10, but much like Vancouver’s 3-0 lead against Chicago this year, it was a bit misleading. Those games were mostly close, a point best exemplified by Marc Savard’s emotional Game 1 overtime winner.

Conversely, this year’s series includes two blowouts (7-3 in Game 1; 5-1 in Game 3) and one overtime thriller. That’s not a great sign for a comeback, although the diversity-proven Flyers probably won’t care.

  • This is probably a better Bruins team. Tuukka Rask did a great job last season, but Tim Thomas simply instills more confidence. This year’s roster seems a little bigger, tougher and deeper than the 2010 edition. The fact that they won the Northeast Division this time around strengthens that suspicion.


The Flyers are a talented and tough team, so you can’t count them out of this altogether. There are a few reasons for hope, but the cons outweigh the pros this year. Some think that Bobrovsky has a lot of weight on his shoulders, yet in a way, he has nothing to lose.

He didn’t dig this hole, but could he help them out if it? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Flyers will go with Brian Boucher (at least to start) in Game 2

Brian Boucher
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No doubt about it, the Philadelphia Flyers’ goalie carousel has been downright ridiculous through their first eight playoff games. Sure, there have been moments when their netminders have actually played well, but those good times have been overshadowed by the uglier moments. (Which, let’s be honest, have happened with startling frequency.)

CSN Philly reports that the team will go with Brian Boucher – at least to begin with – in Game 2 against the Boston Bruins. The phrase “at least to begin with” is appropriate for the simple reason that Boucher has been pulled from two games already this postseason.

It’s a decent decision for one reason: they’re at least attempting to maintain some stability in net. I thought that the team was a bit hasty in pulling the plug on Sergei Bobrovsky (it seemed a bit harsh to demote him all the way to the No. 3 goalie spot considering all he did for the team in the regular season). However, it’s better late than never when it comes to being patient with their goalie, although it’s unclear if Boucher is the man for the job.

Then again, it’s flat-out wrong to say that goaltending is the Flyers’ only issue. Their defense was shaky and their discipline has been spotty at times, so they need to improve in plenty of areas if they hope to get back in this series against the Bruins. (Game 2 is tonight at 7:30 p.m. ET on Versus, by the way.)

That being said, getting a little help from their goalie(s) would be nice, too.

Alain Vigneault says the Canucks will stick with Roberto Luongo in Game 6

Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider

The last two games have been a disaster for Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks. He hasn’t made it through either contest, allowing 10 goals on 40 shots as people wonder if the Chicago Blackhawks remain in his head.

At times, Luongo’s body language has been bad enough that some might call it melodramatic.

Things have declined to such a level that many wonder if the team should go with his solid young backup Cory Schneider. Schneider went 16-4-2 with a 92.9 save percentage and 2.23 GAA during the regular season, so it’s not like the team is unfamiliar with playing in front of him.

Whatever doubt there might have been about who will start for Game 6, Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault didn’t hesitate to say that he’s sticking with Luongo. TSN has the report.

When asked if Roberto Luongo would start in Sunday’s game, despite being pulled in each of the last two contests, Vigneualt offered a quick “yes” in response.

Luongo seemed confident that he would be able to bounce back from these last two games.

“You know what, I just keep doing what I’ve been doing all year,” Luongo said.  “I’ve been at the top of my game for the last five months…Obviously you don’t lose something like that in a game or two.

“For me, nothing changes. The work is going to be there and I’m going to be focused to play the next one.”

The Canucks take a 3-2 series lead back to Chicago for Game 6, and are still in a good spot but need to focus on the positive, according to Luongo.

“There’s ups and downs in the playoffs.  The key is, we’ve got to stay composed here. Obviously, you don’t want to get caught in these situations but we’ve got to take a deep breath here and relax a little bit.  I think it’s a good thing we’ve got a couple of days to re-group here as a team and just get back to doing what we do best.”

When you invest in a goalie as much as the Canucks are investing in Luongo, your fate is tied to his in many cases. Sometimes it’s better to roll the dice with your main guy, although Vigneault will face plenty of naysayers if the Blackhawks complete their improbable turnaround from a 3-0 deficit.

Report: Brian Boucher will start for Flyers in Game 3, with Michael Leighton backing him up

Brian Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky

The debate might rage on, but the Philadelphia Flyers came to a decision about their starting goalie tonight. The team will try to ride the hot hand by giving Brian Boucher the start, according to CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio.

If you were hoping that the team would be patient with Sergei Bobrovsky, there aren’t many good signs today. In fact, Panaccio reports that Michael Leighton is the one with the full locker rather than “Bob.”

This indicates that Leighton will back up Boucher, rather than Bobrovsky.

In other words, after allowing three goals in an abbreviated start against the Buffalo Sabres in Game 2 and losing Game 1, Bobrovsky dropped from No. 1 on the Flyers’ depth chart to No. 3. Of course, these situations are fluid, which is evident in Bob’s current predicament.

While I understand the Flyers don’t have a lot of time to waste here, it’s still surprising how quickly they pulled the plug on Bobrovsky. Yes, he’s a young goalie who is unproven in the playoffs and there’s no denying his slow start. Still, he was a revelation for the team this season, guiding them to an Atlantic Division title as he won 28 games and put up solid individual numbers (91.5 save percentage, 2.59 GAA).

If nothing else, Peter Laviolette isn’t being wishy-washy about his netminding situation. These are the kind of moves that open the floodgates for people who like to blame all of Philadelphia’s problems on their goalies, but if the Flyers end up winning this series behind Boucher, they’ll gladly put up with the hecklers.

Michal Neuvirth will be in Washington’s net for Game 1

Image (1) GYI0061847291-neuvirth-gregfiume-getty-thumb-250x165-22298.jpg for post 15689

The knee-jerk reaction is to say that the Washington Capitals are weak in net, especially since they have two or even three* options for who should be the starting goalie. Yet if you look at the numbers, only four NHL teams allowed less goals than the Capitals’ did during the 2010-11 season.

Michal Neuvirth doesn’t have the win-loss record of oft-injured previous starter Semyon Varlamov nor does he have the outstanding (in a small sample) stats of Braden Holtby, but he’s been a rock for the Capitals all season long. For that reason — and perhaps also taking into account his success in the AHL playoffs — the team named him their Game 1 starter, according to Stephen Whyno and CSN Washington.

It is unclear how strong his hold on the No. 1 job might be, though. Does Neuvirth need to look over his shoulder if he has an off game, or will Bruce Boudreau let him roll with the punches a bit? It’s an interesting situation to watch, and although it’s true that their goalies aren’t established like those of other teams, count me among the people who think that it could actually be a position of strength.

* – Depending on how you feel about Braden Holtby.