The Blue Jackets came a point shy of a Stanley Cup playoff berth after a remarkable run to end the regular season, but they wouldn't have been in contention without a goaltender who came up big for them like clockwork.
At the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh last June, Columbus paid a price of only draft picks to acquire 24-year-old Sergei Bobrovsky, a promising young netminder who saw his opportunity for playing time evaporate with the signing of a big-name free agent. He welcomed a new beginning with the Blue Jackets, and in a short period of time, authored quite a story along with his teammates who nearly shocked the hockey world.
More affectionately known as "Bob," Bobrovsky has quickly become a household name in Columbus and had his own "Top 10" highlight reel on the NHL Network this season.
Bobrovsky was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy this morning, annually awarded to the player voted to be the league's best goaltender by NHL general managers. The award winner is usually announced at the NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas, but due to a compressed schedule, the league will announce the winner during the Stanley Cup Final.
“It is a great honor to be a finalist for this award, but I need to thank my teammates and coaches as it would not be possible without them,” Bobrovsky said in a statement issued by the team. “I just tried to work hard and get better every day and help the Blue Jackets win games.
"We missed the playoffs by one point, but it was a good year and I will just try to keep getting better because our goal is to win the Stanley Cup.”
The other finalists for the Vezina Trophy are Antti Niemi of the San Jose Sharks (who just eliminated the Vancouver Canucks in a four-game sweep last night) and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers.
In his first season with the Blue Jackets, Bobrovsky finished with a 21-11-6 record, 2.00 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage - earning wins in all but one game during Columbus' 19-5-5 run in the last two months of the season.
On home ice at Nationwide Arena - where the Blue Jackets racked up points all season long - Bobrovsky went 12-3-5 with a 1.64 goals-against average and .945 save percentage. When your goaltender is putting up those numbers, your team has a pretty good chance to win on a nightly basis and that's exactly what Bobrovsky provided the Blue Jackets.
BlueJackets.com will have more coverage on Bobrovsky and the Vezina Trophy nomination in the days leading up to the award announcement.