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Bobrovsky attempting to silence his critics in Philly

Friday, 03.25.2011 / 9:05 AM / NHL Insider

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Bobrovsky attempting to silence his critics in Philly
Two nights after one of his worst efforts of the season, Philadelphia rookie Sergei Bobrovsky looked like a confident goaltender again.
PHILADELPHIA -- The one piece of good news for the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night was that rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has his confidence back.

Two nights after being driven from the net against Washington, Bobrovsky rebounded with a 30-save performance that got the Flyers a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to Pittsburgh -- a game that saw Philadelphia outplayed for most of the evening.

"If it wasn't for our goaltender, we would not have come away with any points tonight," a disappointed coach Peter Laviolette said.
 
Despite the loss, Bobrovsky made Laviolette look like a genius for putting him back in the net. While questions will continue to come fast and furious as to which goalie -- -- the Russian rookie or veteran Brian Boucher -- will actually get the nod when the Stanley Cup Playoffs commence next month, those inquiries were put aside for at least a night.


"We didn't have any lingering questions (about having Bobrovsky in net), you guys did," said Laviolette, referencing the media firestorm after Tuesday's loss. "We all said and thought that he played great in Dallas (a 3-2 shootout win). He had an off night (against Washington) and everyone acknowledged it. He came back (Thursday) and he was the difference-maker and a real bright spot for us."
 
Bobrovsky was coming off one of his worst outings of the season -- in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Capitals on Tuesday in which he yielded three goals on nine shots before getting the hook.

But he more than made up for it against the Penguins.
 
Bobrovsky kept the Flyers even at 1-1 with a few 10-bell stops in the second period, denying Tyler Kennedy near the 12-minute mark with a blocker save on a quick snap shot from in close before turning back Alex Kovalev from point-blank in the slot less than a minute later. He stopped Kovalev again on a rebound attempt at the right post three minutes after that.
 
In the third, "Bob" stopped Maxime Talbot with his left pad on a shorthanded breakaway at 3:53 and somehow located with his right pad a 55-foot screened slap shot by Zbynek Michalek from the right point.

"Every time you stop the puck, you actually get more confident," Bobrovsky said.
 
In overtime, he denied defenseman Kris Letang on back-to-back opportunities from in close midway through the extra period.

"I'm not happy because we lost, but I'm happy that I made a lot of stops," Bobrovsky said. "Every time the coach trusts me to go out, it is important to me to play well. I was pretty confident (heading into the shootout)."
 
For the season, Bobrovsky is 1-3 in shootouts, allowing seven goals on 15 shots.
 
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.
 
Bobrovsky's teammates felt they let their goalie down against the Penguins.
 
"It was great to see him bounce back like that," captain Mike Richards said. "It was a definition of a pro. Every game, bouncing back and responding extremely well. He got us that point tonight and it should have been two."
 
The Flyers are now just four points ahead of the Penguins in the Atlantic Division standings with one game in hand.
 
"Luckily we had Bob … he kept us in the game," defenseman Andrej Meszaros said. "He was unbelievable, but we can't have those kind of games close to the playoffs."
 
Bobrovsky made 11 saves in the opening period before Kennedy scored a power-play goal 1:01 into the second to square the contest at 1-1. In the shootout, Kovalev made a splendid move to tuck the puck into the left corner of the net before red-hot Chris Kunitz ended it with a power move in the slot.
 
"We wanted to get things rolling and roll along longer than just two games, especially with the playoffs approaching," Flyers forward Danny Briere said. "It is a little disappointing. The last game we deserved two points (against Washington) and we didn't get one. I didn't think we deserved one (on Thursday), but we got one back. I guess that's the positive. (Bobrovsky) played a great game for us and gave us a chance to steal another point."
 
Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren said he's been very satisfied with Bobrovsky's play this season.
 
"Sergei has been a good goaltender for us this year," Holmgren said. "We think he has a chance to be a real good player for the Flyers over the next number of years. With any young player, there are times when they struggle with their game.
 
"I don't think he is any different than any other young guy who has come along here in the last little while. He'll continue to work. One thing about him: He shows up to work. He has a good attitude about the game."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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