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Bobrovsky looking for fresh start for Panthers in Stanley Cup Qualifiers

Goalie struggled in first season after signing seven-year contract

by Alain Poupart / Independent Correspondent

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. -- Sergei Bobrovsky's first regular season with the Florida Panthers did not live up to expectations, but the goalie said he is looking for a fresh start in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

Bobrovsky was 23-19-6 with a 3.23 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage when the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. He had a 2.46 GAA and .919 save percentage in nine NHL seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers and Columbus Blue Jackets before signing a seven-year contract with the Panthers before this season. 

"I think after four months it is a fresh start," Bobrovsky said Tuesday at Panthers training camp. "It's been a long time for everybody. We actually had the time to rest and we had the time to train on our own. It's a long time, four months. It is a fresh start and we have to build all the chemistry and all the feelings and atmosphere inside of the locker room from the beginning."

The Panthers (35-26-8, .565 points percentage) are the No. 10 seed in the Eastern Conference and will play the No. 7 seed, the New York Islanders (35-23-10, .588), in the Qualifiers at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, the East hub city, beginning Aug. 1. The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the loser will have a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery.

Bobrovsky missed the four games before the pause with a lower-body injury, but in his final six games had a save percentage of .921.

Video: FLA@TOR: Bobrovsky robs Engvall on the rush

The 31-year-old said he used the past four months to work on his body.

"I was able to take time to rest and was able to get some time for the training, some good training," he said. "I feel I'm in good shape physically and mentally and I'm excited about this opportunity."

Coach Joel Quenneville praised Bobrovsky and goalie Chris Driedger following Florida's 30-minute scrimmage.

"I thought both goalies looked extremely patient in the net," Quenneville said. "I thought they did their job. 'Bob' has had a great start, and [Driedger] is one of those guys who shows a lot of patience in the net. The goaltending has been very good. They're up to speed and had a good approach coming into it. Off to a good start."

Bobrovsky allowed eight goals in four games and had a .932 save percentage when he helped the Blue Jackets sweep the Presidents' Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference First Round last season. Columbus lost to the Boston Bruins in six games in the second round.

"It was great last year," Bobrovsky said. "It was a fun atmosphere. It was great to play and great to be part of the success, but it's all new. It's a new challenge. Everything is new."

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