Better With Popcorn

In Bob we Trust?

Is Bob the guy?

That’s been the question all year in Philadelphia. After last night’s amazing/crushing/thrilling/frustrating (you name it) game against the Capitals, I have some serious questions about the Flyers goaltending situation.

Bob has played very well this year. For a rookie goaltender, Bob has gone far and above any kind of expectations this fan base could have had for him. In Bob’s first 14 starts, he amassed an amazing record of 11-2-1 with a .934 save % and a goals against average of 2 (GAA). In that time, Bob faced 426 shots and only allowed 28 goals. He moved like a cat and had impeccable form. Bob was capable of locating the puck at all times and looked young and had plenty of energy. At that time, I felt like the majority of the goals allowed were the fault of the defense rather than a mistake by Bob.

Bob started to get shaky around February 1st. Coming into February, Bob had won 6 consecutive starts and was 7-2-1 in his previous 10. Bob wasn’t playing terrible in February, but he wasn’t playing consistently either. Bob has yet to win back-to-back games since February 1st and his performance in net has been alarming. In Bob’s last 14 games played he is 5-5-2 with a .899 save % and a GAA of 2.71. He has allowed 38 goals on 377 shots (10 goals more on 49 shots less than his first 14 games). Not only are his stats not as strong, his positioning looks off, he doesn’t seem to square up to the puck, and his ability to locate the puck has been poor. His youthful energy now looks like teenage angst. I don’t know if Bob lacks confidence or if I’m just seeing things but Bob doesn’t seem to carry himself the same way he did in the beginning of the year. I feel like he is really tired.

Comparably, Brian Boucher has played consistently. Boucher has only lost back-to-back games on two occassions this year and has won consecutive games 10 seperate times. Boosh’s longest winning streak this season is 4-games which he accomplished two times. Boucher’s stat line has been pretty strong registering a record of 17-8-4 with a save % of .915 and a GAA of 2.41.

Since February 1st, Boucher has played 11 games. Over that span he is 6-2-2 with a .914 save % and a GAA of 2.18. In those 11, Boosh has held the opponent under 2 goals 7 times. In Bob’s 14 games, he has only held the opponent under 2 goals 5 times. The Flyers have only blown a lead in 3 games when Boucher has been in net (one of which occured last night against the Capitals) and are 1-1-1 in those games with each game being decided in a shoot-out. The Flyers have blown a lead 6 times with Bob in net and are 2-2-2 in those games. The four games that the Flyers registered points in (the two wins and the two overtime losses) were all decided in overtime.

As you can see above, Brian Boucher has not only looked consistent in net, he has been statistically consistent as well. The same can not be said for Bob. Bob’s stats have drastically declined since the February 1st mark and visibly looks uncomfortable in net. Now I understand that some one could argue that because Bob is the number 1 he is facing stiffer competition. The chart below will show that, that is not true. Since February 1st, Boucher and Bob have both had the opportunity to start against 6 teams that the other goalie also got to start against. Boosh is 5-0-1 against those opponents where as Bob is 2-3-1.

I like Bob a lot. I don’t mean this to bash Bob, I just merely think it’s important to consider this data. Bob is a strong young goalie who, if he puts the work in, could be in the NHL for a long time. I think it is very important for every one to consider the amount of games Bob has played this season, 46. Prior to coming to the NHL, Bob played professional hockey in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). During his time in the KHL, Bob never played above 35 games in a single season. Bob is 22 years old and has now played 11 games more than he has ever played in his career. I’m currently 22 years old and I can tell you it’s hard enough for me to wake up before noon and go to two classes in a day. I couldn’t imagine waking up every morning and going to physical therapy, doing workout sessions, morning skates and traveling across the country to play grown men in one of the most physical sports in the world.

Is Boucher our number 1? No, probably not. But I would say that Boosh is and has shown to be a very capable back-up goaltender. His consistency in net this year is something that needs to be appreciated. I would like to see Boucher play the majority of the games leading up to the playoffs. I may be going on a whim but I would like to referance JVR and Andreas Nodl. JVR began the season very poorly and coach benched him for a few games. Since then JVR has played the best hockey of his young career. Andreas Nodl started off on a hot streak and then cooled off to an extreme extent. Coach benched him for a few games and Nodl played probably his best all-around game as a Flyer last night against the Capitals. Whether it was a wake-up call or much needed rest that did the trick, the time off helped both of those young players.

I think Bob needs to rest up. He looks tired and frustrated and I think some time off may do him good. I fully expect Bob to be the starting goalie game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals, but I think that a joint effort from both of our goaltenders is the key to the Flyers moving through the postseason. I don't personally believe that the Flyers could make a cup run without the help of Brian Boucher.

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Adam Pardes's picture

Great work as always, Matt.

Matthew Brigidi's picture

Thanks Adam, I appreciate the kind words. What would you do with the goalies moving forward?