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Get to Know a Panther: Sergei Bobrovsky

As part of the build-up to the first-round playoff series between the Capitals and the Panthers, Japers’ Rink will be looking at some of the important Florida men and how they might impact the series.

NHL: Florida Panthers at Washington Capitals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Sergei Bobrovsky

#72 | Goaltender

Height: 6’2” | Weight: 182 | Born: September 20, 1988

Birthplace: Novokuznetsk, USSR | Acquired: Free Agent; Signed: July 1, 2019

Assets: Tracks the puck very well when he is on top of his game. Has good quickness and athleticism for the goaltending position. Does not 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 does not always communicate well enough with his defensemen.

Career Potential: Excellent but inconsistent goaltender.

(Via TSN)

via @JFresh

Why You Should Know Who He Is: Bobrovsky is a 12-year veteran, and of 53 goalies logging at least 10,000 minutes since he entered the league in 2010-2011, he ranks 16th in overall save percentage (.916), 20th in goals against average (2.57), and tied for eighth in shutouts (37, with Brian Elliott). He has been a minutes-eater, logging at least 3,000 minutes six times (including this season), tied for fifth among all goalies since 2010-11 and tied for third among active goalies. He is a two-time winner of the Vezina Trophy (2012-13 and 2016-17, both times with the Columbus Blue Jackets) and was a Hart Trophy finalist in 2016-17 (he finished third).

However, over the last four seasons Bobrovsky seems to have slipped from “elite” status among goalies to a more middle of the pack netminder. In his last season with Columbus and three seasons in Florida, he has a fine win loss-record (192-118-58), but his goals against average (2.82) and save percentage (.908) rank 26th and 28th, respectively, among 47 goalies logging at least 5,000 minutes. This despite recording 13 shutouts over that period, tied for eighth among that group of goalies.

This season with the Panthers, Bobrovsky has been in that next tier of goalies in terms of performance. His 2.67 goals against average ranks 17th among 47 goalies logging at least 1,500 minutes (a rounding margin one spot below the Caps’ Vitek Vanecek) through April 28, and his .913 save percentage ranks 17th as well. His three shutouts this season are tied for 13th in that group of goalies. What he as been, though, is almost unbeatable at home with a 26-3-0 record, those 26 wins leading all goalies in home ice wins this season and the fourth-highest home ice win total since he came into the league in 2010-11 (tied with Andrei Vasilevskiy in 2017-18).

How the Caps Can Stop Him: Bobrovsky has a well-documented lack of success in the postseason (13-23, 3.24, .899, no shutouts). That 3.24 playoff goals against average ranks 44th of 45 goalies to log at least 750 playoff minutes since he came into the league in 2010-2011, and the .899 save percentage ranks 43rd in that group. Despite his veteran status, getting into his head early could bring back unpleasant memories of past playoff failures, and this argues for heavy and persistent pressure in terms of forechecking (to play on issues with communication with defensemen) and shot volumes early in games. This might be easier said than done, the Panthers ranking ninth in the regular season in fewest shots allowed per game (30.6). the Caps did average 32.7 shots per game against Florida this season, fifth-most among Eastern Conference opponents of the Panthers. Get pucks to the net early and often.