John Davidson let a wry smile escape when asked about the play of Sergei Bobrovsky at the World Cup of Hockey.
Sure, it's early and yes, a short tournament be a bit of a wild card, but there's no denying the form that the Blue Jackets' No. 1 goaltender appears to be in. Since being named Russia's starting goaltender, he's been arguably their best player, and did his finest work in a win over Sweden this week.
Video: Davidson on the Blue Jackets' goaltending situation
Davidson knows that a healthy and productive Bobrovsky is a Bobrovsky that powers the engine of this club.
"I've watched every Russian game," Davidson said. "He made a cross-ice save in one of the first exhibition games where he really extended himself…I, along with the rest of us, were really excited about that."
When the Blue Jackets hired Nelson Ayotte as High Performance Consultant this summer, one of his primary assignments was to get to the bottom of Bobrovsky's chronic groin issues. Ayotte flew to Austria where Bobrovsky trains and the two "got on the same page," Davidson said, making adjustments to his workouts and understanding how to get the most out of his body.
"He's moving like a cat right now. That's something to watch, the way he's playing…that makes me happy."
The Blue Jackets need Bobrovsky to be their No. 1 guy. They need him to lead the way and be the occasional game-stealer that he's been in previous years - but they're also not foolish enough to think Bobrovsky can do it alone.
Behind him, there is plenty of competition for ice time with two young prospects making a thunderous push up the depth chart.
In the wake of injuries to Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney, 21-year-old Joonas Korpislo took the reins and went on to lead the Blue Jackets in goaltending wins (16) and showed flashes of promise late in the season. Don't forget about 23-year-old Anton Forsberg, who stepped in for Cleveland in the Calder Cup playoffs and led them to a championship.
Davidson made it clear: those players, along with incumbent backup McElhinney, will be counted on to make their push, and continue pushing.
"It's going to be a battle," Davidson said. "We need somebody other than Bob to stop the puck and help us win. We also have to make sure, as we balance it, that the young goaltenders if they're not playing here, they've got to be playing.
"We have to manage this properly and get the most out of this position, and in turn, keep the younger goaltenders developing."