Sergei Bobrovsky finished the World Cup of Hockey with a 0.930 save percentage. He was quick, sharp and strong – like a goaltender ready to move past recent injury woes and regain Vezina form. Conveniently enough, the only time the Russian tender has eclipsed a .930 SvP over a full campaign was in 2012-13, the year he won the Vezina and was recognized as the top goalie in the NHL.
This isn’t to suggest a four-game stint in net is equatable to an 82-game campaign, nor am I suggesting ‘Bob’ will win or even be shortlisted for the ultra-competitive Vezina award this year — it is certainly not an easy task when the likes of Carey Price, Braden Holtby, and even Ben Bishop are patrolling the crease. However, a return to form for Sergei Bobrovsky – to anything close to resembling his 2012-13 campaign – would be a major coup for the Columbus Blue Jackets and help the young franchise take another step forward in its development.
The Jackets at the World Cup
The Jackets didn’t have a fairy-tale outing at the World Cup of hockey – all five of their representatives did not advance to the semifinals and John Tortorella had to deal with a fair share of criticism following a 0-3 showing by the Americans. However, all of that has become a footnote because Sergei Bobrovsky found his game against the best in the world. Even against the juggernaut Canadians on Saturday evening, Bobrovsky was unrelenting. It looked as though he would not be beaten for more than two until the ultra-talented Canadian players finally got it done in the third. It should be noted it took 47 shots to solve the Russian netminder five times, though. Those types of performances will be invaluable for the Jackets moving forward.
@NHL can you work on a bobrovsky highlight reel? got enough material
— ColumbusBlueJackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) September 25, 2016
Bobrovsky Will Insulate Blue-Jacket Youth
A capable goaltender is the backbone of a team. Columbus is a young, gritty, hard-to-play-against hockey team, with players like Seth Jones and Ryan Murray taking on much more responsibility and ice time – having the reassurance of a steady goalie will allow them to take a bit more risk and execute with more confidence.
The effect will even permeate into the forward group as rookies Oliver Bjorkstrand and Pierre Luc-Dubois push to make the big club and won’t necessarily be saddled with a ‘minus one’ for every mistake they make. Bobrovsky’s re-emergence will mean the younger players – including budding defenseman Zach Werenski – will have that much more insulation and a more forgiving margin for error as they find their legs in the NHL.
For a team ready to embrace a youth movement – that is huge.
The One Storyline That Matters
All this to say, the Columbus Blue Jackets should be thrilled with the results of the World Cup of Hockey. Anything can happen at short international tournaments and, amidst all the storylines flying around, Davidson, Tortorella and the rest of the Blue-Jacket brain trust should be celebrating the one that matters: the return of Bob.
Expect the Jackets to take a big, competitive step forward this year and count on Sergei Bobrovsky to be the glue that holds it all together.