There are few players in the National Hockey League that were as fun to watch this season as Sergei Bobrovsky. His diving glove saves, lightning fast reactions and hyper focus almost seemed inhuman at times.
And Bobrovsky wasn't just flashy, he was solid. His consistency during the 2016-17 season was unmatched. He led the league with a .931 save percentage during his 63 games, and he had the lowest goals against average of all starting goaltenders (2.06). Bobrovsky was also tied for third in shutouts this season (7).
"We got 108 points and 50 wins because of Sergei Bobrovsky, there's no doubt about it," Brandon Dubinsky said. "He's our best player and was all year."
Bobrovsky also cemented his position in the Blue Jackets history books. He now holds the record for the most wins in a single season by a goalie in franchise history (41). Bobrovsky is also the first Blue Jacket to ever be nominated for the Hart Trophy, an award given to the player most valuable to his team.
Despite his success, he refuses to take all the credit.
BOBROVSKY'S RECORD-SETTING SEASON
"It would be awesome, obviously, (to win,)" Bobrovsky said. "But I wouldn't be a finalist without my teammates. They did a great job, they helped me a lot, and so did the whole organization. It was great year, it was so much fun."
Bobrovsky's most impressive stretches this season were during the months of December and March. He was integral to the Blue Jackets 16-game winning streak, winning all 12 of his games played in the month of December and 14 out of 16 during the streak as a whole. His personal 14-game streak is tied for the second longest by a net minder in league history.
What's even more unbelievable is that December arguably wasn't even Bobrovsky's best month of the season. In March, he had four of his seven shutouts and posted a 1.09 GAA. He stopped 353 of 365 shots during the run.
Video: MIN@CBJ: Bobrovsky makes 38 saves to shut out Wild
Bobrovsky is one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy given to the league's best goaltender. The other finalists also boast impressive feats.
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
Holtby led the NHL in shutouts this season with a total of nine. He had a .925 save percentage, third in the league, and a 2.07 GAA, behind only Bobrovsky. Most impressively, Holtby was in net for the majority of games during the Capitals Presidents' Trophy run. He finished with 42 wins, one more than Bobrovsky, and tied for first in the league. Holtby took home the Vezina after the Capitals Presidents' Trophy year last season.
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Price posted a .923 save percentage, 12th in the NHL, and won 37 games, ranked 5th in the league. Among starting goaltenders, Price ranks 5th in GAA. Price won the Vezina and Hart trophies in 2015.
While these are all remarkable achievements, Bobrovsky clearly stands out in comparison to the other Vezina candidates. He was even honored as a standout among players as a whole when he was named a Hart Trophy finalist.
Video: PHI@CBJ: Bobrovsky posts shutout, notches 40th win
This honor is a more difficult thing to compare. He is matched up against players who play extremely different positions than himself, and the nature of the award is a different beast. It's not just the best player in the league, but rather the player that is most valuable to his team.
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
McDavid led the league in total points with 30 goals and a whopping 70 assists. He also led the league with 30 multi-point games this season. You can't deny his impact, as the Oilers made the playoffs for the first time since 2006 this season. McDavid is captain of the Oilers, and, at only 20 years of age, the youngest captain in league history.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Sidney Crosby led the league with 44 goals this season and added 45 assists. His 89 points are second in the league, only to McDavid. Crosby won the Hart Trophy previously, in 2007 and 2014. In both of those seasons, he scored 36 goals, but added 68 and 84 assists, respectively.
It's hard to look back on Crosby's regular season and not also consider Pittsburgh's post season success, but it truly doesn't play a role. While the winners are being announced once the playoffs have ended, the votes were cast before they begun.
It's difficult to know how voters will judge a player's impact on their team. Historically, goalies appear less likely to win the Hart Trophy; only 8 goaltenders have won the Hart since its inception 93 years ago. But regardless of the result, Bobrovsky's impact on the Blue Jackets season is undeniable in the eyes of his teammates.
"He's so professional, and he prepares himself like nobody else," Nick Foligno said. "Outstanding goalie, outstanding teammate and somebody who rightfully deserves that reward."
Join the rest of the 5th Line at the Blue Jackets watch part at the Bluestone on June 21! Click here for event and ticket information.