I suppose it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Sergei Bobrovsky read my column last week. Or at least someone he knows who speaks English pointed it out to him (yeah, I’m harping on the language barrier again. Sue me.) Because, since I stated last Friday that Bobrovsky doesn’t seem to want to take the reigns as playoff starting goaltender, he’s started to play like one. Including the Pittsburgh game at the Wells Fargo Center this past Thursday, Bobrovsky has allowed a grand total of 5 goals in his last 4 starts (that’s 1.25 goals per game, for those of you keeping count at home). When you throw in the 2-1 loss to Boston, which Brian Boucher started, that’s 7 goals allowed in the last 5 games (1.4 goals allowed/game). In plain language: that’s really, really good. That’s a combined .954 SV% for both goaltenders over the past 7 games.
An interesting thing I noticed about the man called the BOB is how great he plays on the road. Armed with this observation, I consulted the handy-dandy NHL.com and found a pretty interesting thing. As we all know, the Flyers have set a franchise record for road victories this season with 25, and Bobrovsky is a large part of this. On the road, Bobrovsky has compiled a .925 SV%. By comparison, Pekka Rinne’s road SV% is .926 (Rinne trails only Tim Thomas for the league lead in both GAA and SV%) which illustrates just how impressive that statistic is. At home, on the other hand, Bobrovsky has posted a rather pedestrian .912 SV%. With Boucher, this trend is reversed (.928 at home, .910 on the road). Go figure. Maybe Bobrovsky just doesn’t like the highlighter orange he’s forced to wear at home games.
Well I didn’t get off to a great start at this whole predicting thing. Laviolette threw me, and many others I’m sure, for a loop with his decision to start Bobrovsky against the lowly Islanders while throwing Boucher into the fire against an angry Boston team which had just come off of a shutout loss to the Rangers. But, as I say, good luck figuring out what the Coach is thinking when it comes to his goaltenders. Anyway, to this week, expect to see:
• Boucher tonight at New Jersey with a chance to end the Devils’ playoff hopes
• Bobrovsky on Sunday in the Wells Fargo Center versus the Rangers, the NBC Game of the Week
• Bobrovsky on Tuesday at Scotiabank Place against the newly-invigorated Senators
The Phantoms played 4 games this past week, splitting them by defeating the top two teams in the East Division in Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton while falling to Worcester and Albany. Michael Leighton posted a 2-1-0 record, stopping 84 of 89 shots faced for a .944 SV%, with Johan Backlund taking the loss against Albany, stopping 28 of 34 shots for a .824 SV%. Interestingly, the loss to Albany was only the Phantoms’ twelfth regulation loss since the beginning of January, which is the lowest in the East Division during that period. Interestingly, Michael Leighton started his first game for the Phantoms on January 7. Coincidence? I don’t think so.