What about "Bob"?
By Patrick Hoffman
When it comes to the Columbus Blue Jackets, they go as their starting goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky goes.
As can be seen in the early going this year, the Blue Jackets are once again off to a good start thanks to the strong play of the man they call "Bob". As of this writing (Monday, November 20, 2017), the Blue Jackets are second in the Metropolitan Division at 12-7-1 and are tied for third in the Eastern Conference with 25 points.
A lot of their early season success is due to the play of Bobrovsky. In 16 games, Bobrovsky, 29, is 11-4-1 with a 2.02 goals against average, a .933 save percentage, and two shutouts.
League-wise, Bobrovsky is third in the league in goals against average, fourth in the league in save percentage, third in the league in wins, and third in the league in shutouts. What all of this adds up to, so far at least, is a bid to potentially win back-to-back Vezina Trophies as the league's best masked man.
There are many reasons why Bobrovsky is showing once again why he is one of the world's best goaltenders. It all starts with his positioning.
What makes Bobrovsky so good is not only does he put himself in the right position to stop the initial shot, but he also is able to make second and even third saves because he is in good position. This makes him extremely tough to beat.
Another reason why Bobrovsky is such a good goaltender is because of his flexibility. He can make saves using the splits with regularity and as he showed recently against the Detroit Red Wings, stopping a two-on-none is not that big of a deal to him.
"Bob" is also successful because he is one of the most consistent masked men in the game. When he is healthy, he gets his team a lot of wins, puts up great numbers, and does everything he can to get his team into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
With that in mind, assuming his team can get into the postseason for the second straight year, Bobrovsky needs to learn to carry his strong regular season play into the Cup tournament. In 18 playoff games, Bobrovsky is 3-10 with a 3.63 goals against average and a .887 save percentage, certainly no where near good enough numbers to win when it matters the most.
If Bobrovsky can learn to play well in the playoffs, the Blue Jackets could become legitimate playoff contenders. It is now up to him to show his franchise and the rest of the league that he is up to the task.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.