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Bobrovsky locked in during recent hot run

Blue Jackets goaltender leading the way with recent play

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider /

When it comes down to it, Sergei Bobrovsky isn't going to talk much about the run he's on. 

It's not superstition that keeps the Blue Jackets goalie from an eloquent address on the fact that he has a 1.25 goals-against average and .957 save percentage in his last eight starts. 

And Bobrovksy isn't being a jerk when he doesn't really go too in-depth on breaking down his back-to-back shutouts, or the fact he hasn't allowed a goal almost 158 minutes of game play.

Would he rather see more shots or fewer? Does it matter who's on the other side of the ice? And how about the tough travel back from the Western Canada trip?

None of it matters. It's just that the veteran Russian netminder is locked into the present. Thinking about the bigger picture, or what he's done in the last few games, isn't particularly helpful because that's all into the past. 

Video: Bobrovsky earns Tuesday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout

It's all about the next moment to keep the run going. For example, here's one comment Bobrovsky made after Tuesday night's 4-0 win vs. the New York Islanders.

"I don't want to analyze (too much)," he said. "I just want to let it go. I don't want to stop and think. Just enjoy this time, enjoy this environment. And have fun with it." 

His teammates, however, are more than willing to step up and fill the vocal void. 

"It's all my pep talks in the (postgame) hug," captain Nick Foligno joked after Tuesday's 4-0 victory over the Islanders. "It's exactly what we expect out of Bob. We always say we don't need him to be the game stealer, he just needs to be solid and as confident in himself as possible, and this is what happens." 

"It's nice to be feeling good, and I love how Bob is feeding into that," Matt Duchene said. "He's our most important guy, and he's playing amazing right now." 

Just how amazing? In his last eight starts, Bobrovsky has pitched three shutouts and allowed just one goal three times. 

So what's the key? Watching Bobrovsky of late, he's been technically sound, playing confidently in his net. His reads and anticipation have been excellent, as he's usually in position to make the save before the shot is taken, and he's played big enough that any deflections in front of him have either ended up in his pads or wide of the net because he's taken up so much space.

In addition, the team in front of Bobrovsky has tightened up its game. Whereas a month ago, the team was still finding its way in the absence of Ryan Murray and fitting Adam McQuaid into the lineup, things have settled down defensively. Structure has improved, and odd-man rushes and other dangerous chances have dropped. That is reflected in Bobrovsky's calm nature in net -- when the goaltender tends to look his least comfortable is when deflections and chaos in front leave him vulnerable.

The result is a marriage that consistently has kept pucks out of the Blue Jackets net.

Tweet from @BlueJacketsNHL: BOB 🤩#CBJ | @rodiziogrill

"He's just so confident in his game right now," Foligno said. "We want that to continue. We're doing our best in front of him and he's obviously there to bail us out right now. It's been a good marriage. We need that to continue down the stretch."

Head coach John Tortorella has been quick to point out that Bobrovsky's strong play is no recent phenomenon. Since Dec. 13, Bobrovsky is 22-13-1 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in 36 games; before that, he was 11-10-0 in 21 games with a 3.14 GAA and .898 save percentage.

"Bob has been good for a while," Tortorella said after the win vs. the Islanders. "I think the biggest part of tonight's game is when we couldn't get our legs the first 10 minutes, Bob made two or three really good saves or they score the first goal. He wasn't busy all night long, but he had some difficult saves to make."

Could the rest afforded the goaltender down the stretch also be helping? Twice, Bobrovsky has been full days off when Joonas Korpisalo was deputized to take over, a luxury the team has with a third goaltender in Keith Kinkaid on the roster, and another day off came last week when Bobrovsky was kept away from the team to rest a nagging injury.

But all of these are questions are just noise, something Bobrovsky is trying to eliminate as things come down the stretch. Noise makes it harder from focusing on the only thing that matters -- seeing the puck and then stopping it. 

Over the past few weeks, no one has done it better than Bobrovsky.

"I feel pretty good," he said. "It's a team sport, and I am part of the team. I just try to do my best to help them win the games." 

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