No surprise here, really — one day after Sergei Bobrovsky starred in a 3-2 OT loss to Canada, head coach Oleg Znarok said Bobrovsky would start when Russia opens the 2016 World Cup of Hockey against Sweden on Sunday.
Bobrovsky received the majority of minutes in Russia’s exhibition campaign, making 29 saves in a win over the Czechs and a whopping 45 against Canada last night.
“It was interesting,” Bobrovsky said, per NHL.com. “It’s always a big challenge when you play against Canada, they have so many great players. It’s very interesting to test yourself against them.”
Semyon Varlamov was the only other Russian goalie to see time during the exhibitions — he received all 60 minutes in a shootout loss to the Czechs, but played very well, stopping 33 of 34 shots faced.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, the No. 3 goalie on the depth chart, didn’t see any action.
Znarok did leave the door open for a potential goalie switch during the tournament, saying he would see how things go after the Sweden game. This wouldn’t be anything new for the Russians.
At the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Varlamov played the first group game, Bobrovsky played the second (the epic shootout loss to the U.S.) and Varlamov returned to play the third.
Bobrovsky then retook the net for a qualification playoff win over Norway, only to cede it to Varlamov for a quarterfinal loss to Finland (Bobrovsky did replace Varlamov against the Finns).