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Flyers should show patience with Sergei Bobrovsky

Brian Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky

Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Boucher, top, leaves the game and is replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky, bottom, of Russia, during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck)


It’s easy to focus on the negative with Sergei Bobrovsky, especially since he happens to be a Philadelphia Flyers goalie. While some dismiss him as another erratic Philly netminder, Bobrovsky is also a decent goalie who could provide the team with a cheap option in net during his three entry-level seasons.

The Russian rookie netminder flopped badly against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, as he was chased from the Flyers’ net after allowing three goals on nine shots. The bad night reignited discussion of Bobrovsky’s consistency (or lack thereof), but Bob bounced back with a nice 30-save performance in a shootout loss against the Penguins on Thursday.

Of course, playing a good game followed by a bad one and then a good one again isn’t the kind of “consistency” the Flyers are looking for right now, but points out an interesting comparison between Bobrovsky and Antti Niemi. Yet the article also reveals that Bobrovsky isn’t producing results that are that different from his backup Brian Boucher’s numbers.

Does the effort by Bobrovsky officially put to bed any questions about the playoff starter?

Probably not, but keep in mind Antti Niemi finished 26-7-4 with a 2.25 goals-against average and .912 save percentage in his rookie season with the Chicago Blackhawks before leading his team to the Stanley Cup in 2010. Bobrovsky is 26-11-6 with a 2.57 GAA and .915 save percentage.

Since the All-Star Break, however, Bobrovsky has gone 5-5-3 with a 2.66 goals-against average and .912 save percentage. He’s also compiled a 10-9-4 mark against playoff teams for the season. Keep in mind, he’s never played more than 35 games in a season prior to this year. Boucher, meanwhile, is 17-8-4 with a 2.41 GAA and .915 save percentage this campaign.

While it almost seems like a spring tradition to say that the Flyers’ downfall will begin in net, let’s not forget that Philadelphia got all the way to the Stanley Cup finals with Boucher and Michael Leighton. That doesn’t mean that they’ll make the NHL’s final round again, but they remain a deep and talented team that can go far, even if their willingness to roll with unheralded goalies defies convention.

It remains to be seen if Bobrovsky will be the goalie to get them there, but perhaps a little patience should be in order when it comes to judging Bob.