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Flyers likely to turn back to Bobrovsky

by Adam Kimelman /
On May 6, 2010, the day before the Flyers were scheduled to play Game 4 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series with the Boston Bruins trailing 3-0, a minor news release was put out by the club touting the signing of three prospects.

One of them was an undrafted goaltender from Russia named Sergei Bobrovsky.

A year to the day later, Bobrovsky likely will be in net as the Flyers again try to start their climb out of a 3-0 series hole in the conference semifinals against the Bruins when the teams take the ice for Game 4 Friday (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS [JIP], CBC, RDS).

During Thursday's practice at TD Garden, Bobrovsky filled the net at one end of the ice. At the other end Brian Boucher and Johan Backlund took turns facing shots.

Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has held fast to his policy of not announcing his team's starting goaltender until the day of the game. Since the teams didn't skate Friday morning -- TD Garden was being used for Northeastern University's graduation ceremony -- Laviolette delayed his announcement until 5:15 p.m. ET.

If the Flyers opt for Bobrovsky, it will be his first start since Game 2 of the first round against the Buffalo Sabres. After a strong effort in a Game 1 loss, Bobrovsky was pulled 12:30 into Game 2 after allowing three goals on seven shots.

He was a healthy scratch for Games 3, 4, 5, and 6 of that series, but then returned as Boucher's backup in Game 7. Bobrovsky has backed up Boucher in the first three games of the conference semifinal, but has played in each of them as Boucher has been removed from each game -- Games 1 and 3 for poor performance, Game 2 for a hand injury.

In his 56 minutes of action in the series, he has allowed three goals on 24 shots. Playing the final 24:30 of Game 3, he stopped seven of eight shots in the 5-1 loss.

Bobrovsky had a strong regular season, his first in North America, going 28-13-8 with a 2.59 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 54 games.

He got the starting nod to open the playoffs, and stopped 24 of 25 shots in a 1-0 loss to the Sabres. However, he was shaky in Game 2 and removed early, which started the goaltender roulette wheel spinning. The Flyers started three goalies in the first round against the Sabres -- Boucher started Games 3, 4, 5 and 7, with Michael Leighton starting Game 6 -- and they've changed goalies seven times in 10 games.

The players, however, have continued to say they have faith in whoever starts in goal. If the starter in Game 4 is Bobrovsky, that's fine.

"I thought he looked great in relief in the Boston series," Flyers center Danny Briere said Thursday. "Sometimes a lot of it has to do with how you feel against a certain team for goalies. Maybe he can come in and feel good and see the puck well against the Bruins. I don't know if he's playing or not (Friday), but if he is, I'd feel very comfortable."
The key for Philadelphia will be playing better in front of whoever is in the crease.

"I don't know who is playing (Friday)," Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen said Thursday. "I'm not worried about our goalies, though. I'm worried about us and how we'll do our job, and if we do that, we'll be in good shape."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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