Bob bounces back as Flyers falter

By JAY BOEHMER
Senior Hockey Insider — jboehmer@highhopesblog.com
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Sergei Bobrovsky shined with a stellar performance, stopping 30 of 31 shots.

Throughout the night, the Penguins cut their way through the Flyers’ defenses and took a stab at Bobrovsky.

 

The last line of defense, Bobrovsky stood strong against constant onslaught. Ultimately, though, a Chris Kunitz shootout shot sneaked through to hand the Flyers their third shootout loss in four straight.

It’s the tale of two Bobs – a strong performance against Dallas on Saturday followed by a complete and utter collapse in the face of the Washington Capitals.

Which was going to arrive Thursday against Pittsburgh?

Captain Mike Richards answered that question when he called Bobrovsky’s rebound from Tuesday “the definition of a pro,” crediting him with the Flyers’ point while taking responsibility for the fact that they didn’t get two.

For the Flyers to make a serious playoff run, they need to string together strong performances. Not only in goal, but everywhere else on the ice too.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case as the rest of the team dropped off from an impressive showing against Washington.

Riding the back of a hot goaltender, the Flyers held on until the shootout, surviving on a single goal that took a fluky bounce off of Mike Richards skate and over Marc-Andre Fleury.

Kimmo Timonen agreed with his defensive partners that the loss was an embarrassing one.

“We are lucky to get one point out of this,” he said. “Every game is a different game. It doesn’t matter if you play really well the game before – you have to put that behind and focus on a new game. It looked like today we were unable to do that.

“They outworked us and won all the one-on-one battles. If you don’t work, you’re in trouble.”

Peter Laviolette thought that assessment was pretty accurate, and once again cited Bobrovsky as the sole contributor in the Flyers’ point.

“There is no excuse for it,” he said. “We were not sharp tonight. We got beat in most areas, and if it weren’t for our goaltender, we wouldn’t have gotten any points tonight.”

Laviolette also cleared some doubts surrounding Bobrovsky’s play.

“We didn’t have any lingering questions [about Bobrovsky],” Laviolette said. “We all said and thought he played great in Dallas. He had an off night the other night, everybody acknowledged it, and he came back tonight and was a difference maker. He was a real bright spot for us tonight.”

Going into the post season, that kind of confidence from his team and his coach is going to be key for Bobrovsky.

One of the biggest problems facing young netminders like him is confidence. Sometimes a goalie just needs to know he’s the number one – that kind of change rocketed Carey Price from mediocre to Vezina contender.

With the Flyers’ continued reliance on Bobrovsky, that confidence is growing – and no better time for it to happen.

In the (translated) words of a 22 year-old goaltender from Novokuznetsk, Russia, “Every time the coach trusts me to go out, it is important to me.”

And while young, Sergei Bobrovsky is a professional who takes his role seriously, and knows how to prepare himself for these pressure situations.

The players in front of him have enough talent and veteran leadership that they’re sure to step up when a playoff series calls for it – none of this off-and-on play.

If Bobrovsky can follow suit, then this team – though slipping down the stretch – may still regain their footing in time for a shot at the Cup.

 

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