Everyone knows that when Columbus Blue Jackets’ netminder Sergei Bobrovsky is on his game, he is one of the best goaltenders in the game.
Luckily for the Blue Jackets, Bobrovsky is playing like a man on a mission. With the playoffs just about here, his strong play between the pipes could not have come at a better time for his hockey club.
As of this writing the Blue Jackets find themselves in in the first wild card spot with 94 points. That may sound great, but they are only ahead of the team in the second wild card spot, the Carolina Hurricanes, by one point and are just two points up on the Montreal Canadiens.
The only reason why they are currently in this position is because of the terrific play by Bobrovsky. He has won five straight games and in those five games, he has three shutouts and has allowed just four goals.
In fact, because of this recent stretch, his regular season stats make him look like the way he has been for most of his career and that’s an elite goaltender. As of this writing he is 36-23-1 with a 2.55 goals-against average, a .914 save percentage, and nine shutouts, which currently lead the league.
There are several reasons why Bobrovsky is playing like the Bobrovsky we are all accustomed to seeing. For starters, he seems a lot more relaxed between the pipes.
While there is definitely a lot of pressure on this team to get into the playoffs, he is simply playing within himself. He is stopping pucks that he is supposed to, he is controlling his rebounds, he is not getting caught out of position, and he is keeping his movements very simple and not exerting himself to make saves like he was doing for a good chunk of this season.
Secondly, he is making the big stops when his team needs it the most. When Bobrovsky is on his game, the team in front of him know they are going to get a save from him when they need one and they also know that they can take more chances on offense.
Speaking of the team in front of him, they are playing much better defensively. They are doing a great job of clearing rebounds, letting Bobrovsky see the puck, and making sure they protect the front of the net.
When you put all of these things together, you have one of the best goaltenders in the world. We have to remember that this is a two-time Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s top netminder.
As such, we all know what Bobrovsky is capable of. Now, he just needs to get his team into the playoffs and if he gets them there, he needs to play well and show that he can get the job done when it matters most.
There is a lot riding on Bobrovsky from here on out, but if he plays the way he is right now, the team will be in a good position to shock some teams in April.