Samsel: Here we are again: Goalie still a “?”

By MIKE SAMSEL
Columnist — msamsel@highhopesblog.com
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Sergei Bobrovsky struggled in Game 1, getting pulled after allowing three first period goals. (Shay Roddy/High Hopes)

So, here we are. It’s only been two games. Heck, the series is even tied! Yet, here we are. Peter Laviolette was asked twice “Who is your starting goaltender Game 3?”.

The answer according to the Flyers Coach was “I don’t talk about goaltenders.” That is true. Having been around the team the entire year, the organization remains tight lipped over these types of decisions. There was a quote however from the coach that I find quite interesting.

“We don’t have a starter if that’s what you’re looking for. If you are trying to find the number one, we have been struggling with that question the entire year.”

How do you look at that quote? It does not show a commitment to any one goaltender for sure. If Laviolette was sure he was going to go back to Sergei Bobrovsky, why not commit to him right off the bat?

It is because Peter Laviolette is not sure. If your sure why give the talk radio circuit or the fans the fodder? This conversation does feel very familiar to the final regular season game when Bobrovsky gave up 3 goals in 8 shots to the Islanders. Laviolette went right back to Bobrovsky in Game 1 and he played well. He has also developed the reputation of bouncing back well.

Laviolette was quick to praise Bobrovsky, saying, “Let me just reiterate, we have a lot of confidence in Bob. He always answers the bell. When he has an outing that maybe he wishes he could have a few back, he always comes back and answers the bell in the next game.”

However, Game 3 is the swing game in the series. It gives the Flyers the opportunity to take the home ice advantage.

Laviolette said of Brian Boucher, “I think that Brian has had so many times where he has come in and bailed us out. Like I said, he’s a veteran goaltender that has a calmness about him. There was a lot of energy and emotion in the game and especially in the first period. The building was great, both benches were live, and it was just a lively game. He can come in and really settle things down for us, and that’s exactly what he did. He has done it in the past and it was really great to see him do it tonight.” What Laviolette said there seems like everything you would like from your goalie in a swing game of a series, no?

The Flyers have struggled with this all year, the coach said it himself. Laviolette doesn’t seem in a rush to name a number one either. The two goaltender system has been employed by the Flyers all year. So when we’ve been exactly where we are right now wondering who is the number one goalie, there has been no solid answer.

Peter Laviolette seems content and confident to go with either one, however, the stakes for this next decision are higher then they’ve been all year.

Mike is the host of The Second Shift, a weekly sports talk show on 1490 WBCB, and can be found on Twitter.

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