#72 | Goalie
Height: 6’2” | Weight: 182 | Born: September 20, 1988
Birthplace: Novokuznetsk, Russia | Acquired: Traded from Philadelphia in 2012.
Assets: Tracks the puck very well when he’s on top of his game. Has good quickness and athleticism for the goaltending position. Doesn’t let a lot bother him, on the surface.
Flaws: Needs to continue to work on his confidence, which tends to waver from time to time. Also, he doesn’t always communicate well enough with his defensemen.
Career Potential: Excellent goaltender.
(Via The Hockey News)
Why You Should Know Who He Is:
Remember that trophy they give to the best freaking goaltender on the planet, the one that says, “Hey, other teams: don’t bother even trying to score on this guy, because he’s the very best at making that eventuality an impossibility”? We call it the Vezina Trophy in common parlance, and Sergei Bobrovsky has won it TWICE, including last year.
For those keeping score at home, that’s twice as many times as Saskatchewan’s own demi-mortal Braden Holtby.
This season, Bobrovsky has been good, if not the quasi-immortal avatar he sometimes inhabits. In his 65 games played this year (11 more than Holtby’s 54 GP), Bob The Goalie (one of the best nicknames in hockey) has amassed a .921 SV% and a 2.42 GAA.
As Peter Hassett of Russian Machine Never Breaks pointed out, however, the most interesting matchup here may be between Bobrovsky and the Capitals’ “backup” goalie, Philipp Grubauer. Now keep in mind, Grubauer is the “backup” in the same way that a “backup” parachute is a backup: you may not plan on using it, but you’re completely screwed if it doesn’t work. Grubauer led the entire NHL this season in goals saved above average - that is, how many more vulcanized rubber pucks he stopped versus a statistically average goalie.
Second in the entire NHL in that category? Sergei Bobrovsky.
If Bobrovsky gets hurt, the Blue Jackets are done (barring an epic, one-for-the-therapist-to-sort-out Halaking). Backup Joonas Korpisalo has only played in 18 games this season, and he was decidedly meh in those appearances, racking up a drearily pedestrian .897 SV% and a 3.32 GAA.
But if Bobrovsky plays like the goaltender he’s capable of playing as........well, I hope your psychologist is on speed dial, Caps fans.
How the Caps Can Stop Him:
The only thing that stops a bad Russian with a hockey stick is a good Russian with a hockey stick.
Enter: Alex Ovechkin.
The Columbus Blue Jackets....ahem....struggle to hold water on the penalty kill. In fact, their 76.1% success rate with a man in the timeout no-no bad-boy box is good for just 27th in the league.
What’s more, despite that fact, you can see from this HockeyViz graph that Columbus does a fairly good job of preventing power play shots against from just north of the right circle. You may recall, that area is referred to by scholars, preeminent anthropologists, and giddy bloggers pole-to-pole as “The Office,” named not for the American sitcom starring Steve Carell but rather for Alex Ovechkin’s propensity to take care of business from there, especially on the power play.
If Washington can successfully pull Columbus’ penalty kill out of position like bad taffy, and manage to feed #Obestkin with the fuel he needs to pump out surgically accurate one-timers, the Capitals may win this one on the merits of their man advantage.