After such a historical regular season, the Florida Panthers find themselves tied at two games apiece in their first-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals after winning a crucial Game 4 in overtime thanks to Carter Verhaeghe. Throughout the entire first round, the team has had slip-ups and massive struggles, but there was one thing that has remained constant, goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has played to the level he was signed to play at.
Bobrovsky in the 2022 Playoffs
On paper, it may seem like Bobrovsky is not doing great this postseason with a goals-against average (GAA) of 2.73 and a save percentage (SV%) of .900 through all four starts. But, he has come up with some big saves at key moments in the game.
For example, in Game 4, he stopped two breakaway chances, including one late in the third period that ultimately turned the tide for the Panthers in their overtime victory. In addition, he stopped 26 of 27 shots and had a .967 SV% in Game 2 that ultimately kept the series close and put them within striking distance.
2022 Playoffs Could Eliminate Bobrovsky’s Disappointing Postseason Narrative
Throughout his career, Bobrovsky had the narrative of struggling in the playoffs floating around him, as highlighted by his .899 SV% and his 3.17 GAA through 45 postseason appearances. However, with the way he’s performed in this series, he’s nearly eliminated that story hanging over him.
This was because head coach Andrew Brunette put his faith in him as the playoff starter. As a result, not only has it built his confidence like a brick wall, but it’s improving the team morale around him as well.
“It’s huge having him back there,” Sam Reinhart said of his goaltender. “He’s been solid all series. He gives us all the confidence in the world to make plays, and it was no different tonight.”
That $10 million per year contract is finally starting to pay off for the Panthers.
Can Bobrovsky Continue His Vezina Trophy-Winning Play?
The biggest thing facing “Bob” is whether he can keep this streak going or not. One of the issues with the Russian netminder throughout his time in Florida has been his streakiness. For example, in the month of March, he was named Third Star of the Month for his performance in which he won seven times, posted a .924 SV%, a 2.17 GAA and two shutouts. However, in April, he was pulled in multiple games against the Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils and Tampa Bay Lightning. While ultimately that month treated him well, it was nowhere near as good as his performance in March.
If his Vezina-winning ways can remain constant throughout the series and beyond, the Panthers are going to be a tough team to crack.
Will Bobrovsky’s Performances Be Enough to Get By the Capitals?
Normally, a goaltender getting hot is essential to success in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For example, players such as Marc-Andre Fleury and Jordan Binnington have boosted their teams’ morale to hockey’s holy grail. After a couple of shaky seasons, Bobrovsky is finally showing that he could be capable of doing the same thing.
Having said that, the overall team around him needs to be a bit better. While the Panthers managed to tie the series at two apiece with an impressive comeback victory in Game 4, there are still some glaring faults in the special teams department and goal-scoring overall. If they can right their wrongs and take the series, they should be one of the most feared teams through the rest of the postseason.
My name is Joey. I’ve been writing about the NHL for about 3 years with my experience spread out between TSJ 101 Sports and Panther Parkway. I look forward to you reading my articles!