Better With Popcorn

No questions about Bob

It’s been obvious for a while now.

Unfortunately, it has tended to spark debate rather than praise but either way it’s undeniable.

Sergei Bobrovsky is the best goaltender on the Philadelphia Flyers right now.

While it doesn’t mean that it will always be that way or that his colleague Ilya Bryzgalov won’t surpass him at some point this season, it does mean that Bobrovsky is performing at optimal level.

In Tuesday night’s game against the Florida Panthers this fact was made abundantly clear.

Although he allowed two goals in the team’s 3-2 overtime win, both blemishes had more to do with breakdowns than errors by the goaltender.

On the first goal, Bobrovsky made two amazing saves prior to some confusion in his crease, which made it difficult for him to stop a third shot seconds later.

The second goal developed off a turnover by Jakub Voracek in the offensive zone. With the Flyers aggressively attacking with four players, the turnover enabled Kris Versteeg to face Bobrovsky one-on-one. After Bobrovsky sprawled across the crease to cut off Versteeg’s angle, Tomas Fleischman swooped in and put the puck in the net. Had he had some defensive support the goal would have never happened.

With the exception of the two goals, Bobrovsky’s play was superb.

He tracked pucks well, smothered shots and limited rebounds throughout the entire game. He stayed tight when laterally moving post-to-post and made sure to protect his five-hole while doing so. Not to mention that he made some amazing saves that forced him to stand on his head.

One of the most impressive developments was his puck handling.

Last season, it was a nightmare to watch Bobrovsky handle the puck. Failures in communication and turnovers made every time he left the crease an adventure to say the least.

This season though, his puck handling is greatly improved. Against the Panthers he left the crease several times and moved the puck to his teammates with ease and precision.

The number one highlight of Tuesday’s win had to be that the Flyers finally won in a shootout.

The team has historically been terrible when going to the final stage of a game.

On Sunday when the Flyers went to a shootout against the Boston Bruins, Bryzgalov failed to stop a shot, which forced the team to acknowledge that it was something they would have to work on in practice.

Against the Panthers, Bobrovsky stopped every shot.

While it may be little more than a glorified skills competition, it was one more thing that Bobrovsky was able to do that Bryzgalov could not.

This whole situation is probably going to create controversy amongst the fan base.

However, it doesn’t seem like it will affect the organization’s decision-making process. Based upon what Laviolette has said, Bryzgalov is and will continue to be the ‘number one’ goalie, even if he won’t outright call him that.

With that being said, it is unwise to turn this into a Bryzgalov versus Bobrovsky thing.

They both play for the same team and they are both bound to go on hot-and-cold streaks at different points in the season.

Instead of throwing stones, fans should be throwing parties over the fact that at least one goalie is hot. Think about how terrible it would be if both goaltenders were struggling at the same time.

It’s understandable that opinions will vary on the situation.

Ultimately it needs to be said that regardless of opinion, opponent, defense, day of the week or jersey color, Bobrovsky is playing the best of the two right now.

It may not change whom Laviolette decides to start but it’s the truth.

--

Follow me on Twitter (@mattbrigidi) and make sure to "like" The Checking Line-Flyers Edition on Facebook to stay up to the minute with all the latest team news and notes.

Feel free to shoot me an email: mattbrigidi@thecheckingline.com

7 Comments

John Russo's picture

Face it, this fanbase will forever look at things with a "glass half empty" mentality. Fickle, stubborn and always looking for the negatives.

George Prax's picture

Is the other half of the glass full with the $15 million in Brygalov's bank account for the 2011-12 season?

trolololo... Smile

Matt Bernot's picture

Glass half full- "at least we're not paying Scott Gomez."

George Prax's picture

Considering their level of play is about equal right now, I'd take Gomez's contract over Bryzgalov's any day of the week.

Larry DAngelo's picture

With the track record that Lavy has with goaltenders here and in Carolina I gotta believe he will play the hot goalie not the highest paid one. After all the Flyers season and record directly reflects on Lavy's coaching. Last year showed that he is willing to change goalies to win. And that may have ultimately hurt Bobrovsky experience wise and caused them to over pay for Bryz. Bob should have played in the play-offs not Boosh!! I believe Bryz is lost for the year mentally. But I keep hanging on to the thought that Bryz will get hot at the end of the season just in time for the play-offs. Imagine the Flyers going into the play-offs with two hot goalies. "Things you thought you would never see" category.

Matt Bernot's picture

At what point does Bob become the playoff starter for game 1? A ~.920SV% puts Bob in/near the league's elite while Bryz's ~.899 puts him in the Toskala-Zone. That's a problem.

More importantly- I'd rather have Bob player 37 games as a 1A goalie, and go into the playoffs with far more energy than most other goalies, it's been said fatigue hurt him last season...imagine a fresh Bob with everything the Flyers have now (plus one cheap veteran D-man to bolster the third pair)

Matthew Brigidi's picture

I totally agree with you about last year--fatigue def hurt him last year. IMO, Lavy really mismanaged the goaltenders last season. I hope that same problem does;t occur this year