What a difference a month makes.
After enduring the most unthinkable of starts, Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has turned his game around in a major way. It’s no surprise that Columbus has stabilized from its 0-8-0 start. Imagine where the Blue Jackets would be without him.
Bobrovsky personally started 0-6-0. It prompted him to tell the media that he had “zero confidence”. At that point, nothing was going right. Every shot felt like it was going in. There was panic up and down the lineup. The team had reached rock bottom.
Bobrovsky is too good of a goaltender to play that bad for that long. A reversal of fortune was in order. Not sure anybody thought that his reversal would be this good.
The Blue Jackets are 11-16-1. Bobrovsky is 11-12-1 himself. A first look at his record suggests there’s nothing spectacular happening. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
If you take out the 0-6-0 start, Bobrovsky is a respectable 11-6-1. His 11 wins are tied for the most in the NHL with Washington’s Braden Holtby since 10/28. That’s only the beginning.
In that time, Bobrovsky has posted a better GAA and save% than Holtby. Bobrovsky has a 1.90 GAA and .940 save%, while Holtby has posted a 2.06 GAA and .932 save%. Because of Columbus’ slow start, Bobrovsky is not getting the attention he deserves.
Bobrovsky now leads the NHL in games started (24), minutes played (1,373), and is tied for the league lead in goaltender assists (2). Bobrovsky is now on a six-game streak in which he has allowed one or fewer even-strength goals. He’s allowed one or fewer even-strength goals in eight of his last nine starts. In his last 19 starts, he has only allowed more than two even-strength goals just twice, while not allowing more than one power-play goal in any of those 19 games.
Bob w/ 2nd assist of '15-16. Already tied career high in 1 campaign (3rd time). 5 assists in #CBJ uni tied for most by goalie (Mason).
— Glenn Odebralski (@GlennOdebralski) December 6, 2015
Remember, this was a goaltender who was carrying a GAA of over 4.00 and struggling to maintain a save% of .850. He now has a GAA overall of 2.58 and a save% of .913. With all that Bobrovsky is doing, can we put him in any kind of Vezina conversation?
It’s way too early for that. The Blue Jackets have a long way to go to get themselves back into playoff contention. Bobrovsky also has to climb over many more deserving netminders. All that said, the idea isn’t as far-fetched as you might think, especially if he keeps this pace up.
Bobrovsky has proven that once he gets on a roll, he is very hard to beat. The biggest question with the Blue Jackets of late has been the defense and if it can hold up over an 82 game season. In this recent stretch, they’ve been more than admirable. It has helped make Bobrovsky’s job easier. But when needed, Bobrovsky has been up to the challenge of making a huge save. Check out this save from the Flyers game on Saturday.
Can the Blue Jackets sustain this level of goaltending? We’ll find out. But at least for this last stretch of games, Bobrovsky has earned every penny of his contract. Without him, the Blue Jackets would hold down last place with no competition. Bobrovsky is clearly the Blue Jackets MVP at this stage. Amazing what a little confidence does for you.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2022-23 season will mark nine seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.