Another year, another chance for Columbus Blue Jackets’ goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to show why he’s one of the best goalies in the world.
At a time when the Blue Jackets needed a lift thanks to some inconsistency in the lineup, Bobrovsky rose up this week and lifted them to a 4-0-0 record helping them keep pace with the Washington Capitals in the Metropolitan division. Sunday’s performance in New Jersey was the exclamation point.
The Blue Jackets scored on their first two shots of the game and then Bobrovsky did the rest in a 3-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils Sunday afternoon. He stopped all 39 shots in his third start in four days and fourth start of the week.
When your goaltender is hot, you ride him. That’s exactly what John Tortorella did Sunday one day after the Blue Jackets handed Carter Hart his first NHL loss in Philadelphia. Although Bobrovsky gave up three goals Saturday, he was still one of the best players on the ice.
No matter what was going on around him, he was in control. Nothing seemed to rattle him, even if his team wasn’t always crisp. We take a quick look back at his week that should likely land him one of the three stars of the week.
Monday Against Vegas
The Blue Jackets opened the week facing old friend William Karlsson and the Vegas Golden Knights. The game went scoreless early into the third period. That’s when Nick Foligno stepped up and gave the team the margin it needed to win.
Bobrovsky made the Foligno goal stand up in a 28-save shutout, his first of this season. You could just tell his best was yet to come. His swagger and confidence was back. He used the next three games to back that up.
Thursday Against New Jersey
The reigning MVP came into Nationwide Arena hoping to spoil the Blue Jackets’ party. While much of the attention went to MacKenzie Blackwood and his first NHL start, Bobrovsky reminded us why he was the star of the show.
Blackwood was outstanding, but Bobrovsky was better. He allowed a Taylor Hall goal in the second period and that was it. Bobrovsky stopped 29 of 30 and the Blue Jackets held on in a frantic final couple of minutes to win 2-1.
While these first two wins were nice, the Blue Jackets had a goal of going into the Christmas break with a perfect week. Thanks to Bobrovsky’s heroics, they did just that.
Saturday Against Philadelphia
This was the Blue Jackets’ first road game in seven games. Carter Hart was on fire after winning his first two starts including against the Nashville Predators. The Flyers seemed to have momentum.
That was until Bobrovsky entered Wells Fargo Center. He always has momentum against the Flyers.
After allowing a late goal in the first and an early goal in the second, Bobrovsky steadied the ship and allowed the Blue Jackets to take the lead thanks to Cam Atkinson. Then Artemi Panarin drove a dagger through the hearts of Gritty and the Flyers by making it 4-2 at the end of the second.
The Flyers got one in the third but that was it. Bobrovsky’s 34 saves helped the Blue Jackets improve to 18-4-1 against the Flyers in their last 23 overall meetings. With one game left the next afternoon, surely Bobrovsky would get a day off before the holiday.
Sunday Against New Jersey
Tortorella went with the hot hand and went back to Bobrovsky. That’s why he’s the coach. Bobrovsky played his best game of the week Sunday at Prudential Center.
On his third game in four days, Bobrovsky stopped all 39 Devils’ shots to cap off the perfect week. The big stretch in the game was a five-on-three penalty kill when defenseman Ryan Murray lost his stick. The Devils threw everything at Bobrovsky and he turned them away.
The Blue Jackets got goals from Atkinson, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Panarin. That was more than enough offense given the streak Bobrovsky is on.
The Week That Was
So to summarize, Bobrovsky finished a perfect 4-0-0 this week with a 1.00 GAA and .970 save percentage. In helping the Blue Jackets take eight of a possible eight points in the last seven days, the team enters the break just two points behind the Capitals for first in the Metro.
Considering the uncertainty of his future, this performance by Bobrovsky is nothing short of amazing. He had a very up and down start to the season. Rumors were flying that his relationship with the Blue Jackets was deteriorating. Yet he managed to put all that behind him and turn in his best performance in quite some time. He is showing why he will have many suitors if he makes free agency.
Bobrovsky’s star is certainly shining this Christmas. It comes at the perfect time for the Blue Jackets in a heated Metro race.
After enjoying some much deserved time off, the Blue Jackets return to action Thursday at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers. Bobrovsky will look to continue his incredible play.