Since the Florida Panther’s big off-season signing of two-time Vezina Trophy-winning Sergei Bobrovsky, the results have not been from previous years. It seems that the ‘Hockey gods’ never intend on giving the Florida Panthers the start between the pipes that they need.
Bobrovsky signed with the Panthers in the off-season for an enormous seven-year, $70 million contract. Making him one of the highest-paid active goaltenders in the league, creating a lot of buzz around the Florida Panthers. Since then, the Panthers and Bobrovsky have been battling in the closest contested division in the NHL.
Sergei Bobrovsky Adjusting to Sunrise
Going into the start of the season with Florida, Bobrovsky comes in with 457 games, 255 wins, and two Vezina Trophies, under his belt. Of those seasons, in the last three, Bobrovsky has been the workhorse he is, playing in 190 games and winning 115 of them. In those wins, Bob made over 5,000 saves and 21 shutouts. Placing him as one of the premier goaltenders in the league.
After much success and back-to-back playoff appearances, Bobrovsky has come into quite a unique situation. A quick and high powered offence, with very-average defences and goalie problems since before many can even remember.
Nevertheless, after a rough start, Bobrovsky has been able to find his way again. In the past eight games, Bob has started for the Panthers going a measly four for four. Regardless of the record, Bobrovsky has been nothing but his peak self.
Back to His Old Ways
Starting December 7th Sergei Bobrovsky started in seven of the last nine games. In those he started in, Bobrovsky was top notch. In the first two games, he won back-to-back. Beating his former team, the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 4-1 game posting a .971 save percentage. Then defeating the San Jose Sharks 5-1 with a .968 save percentage a few days later.
Shortly after that, Bobrovsky lost three in a row. Yet, still playing well, his lowest recorded save percentage of the three was .927% in a 4-2 loss against the Boston Bruins and a high of .958% against the Tampa Bay Lightning on December 10th. Bob managed to bounce back two days later in a 6-1 win against the under-the-radar Ottawa Senators.
For those paying close attention, one would notice that Bobrovsky’s last two games were below par. Unfortunately, his defence left him out to dry. In the Panthers massive 7-4 win against the Dallas Stars, the Panthers took off in the second period yet, they were still out-shot 24 to 18 in the last two periods combined. Leaving Bobrovsky with multiple odd-man rushes against a highly offensive powered team.
Soon after, the Panthers visited their interstate rivals the Tampa Bay Lightning. At first glance, it would seem that Bobrovsky played poorly and probably should’ve been pulled early. Regardless, the real story was, in fact, the Florida Panthers played one of their worst defensive games of the season.
Not only was Tampa excellent on the power-play, but the Panthers were also constantly stuck in their zone. Many times one could see both Panthers defenceman and centre locked up in front of the net. Either puck watching, leaving a man open or blocking Bobrovsky. A lot of their struggles seemed to come from a lack of communication in the defensive zone. According to Naturalstattrick.com, the Lightning had a field day in the Panthers crease when it came to five-on-five play.
A lot of their struggles seemed to come from a lack of communication in the defensive zone. Nonetheless, Bobrovsky really stood on his head. A few bad bounces of the puck left the Panthers nowhere to be found, leaving Sergei Bobrovsky to fend for himself. The Florida Panthers has the fifth-highest goals-against average in the league with 3.28 and tied for 10th in goals against with 118.
With the holiday break over the Florida Panthers go into this stretch of the season one point behind the Montreal Canadiens, who currently hold the third Atlantic Division spot with 42 points. This year the Eastern Conference has been one of the closest contested races. With the Metropolitan Division teams dominating the two wild-card spots, the only hope for any team in the Atlantic seems to be within the top three of the division.