One is a player who many thought his team didn't want. Another is a player who no one outside of his own team -- and many of those on it -- never had heard of.
But two weeks into voting for the 2011 All-Star Game by Discover, the Montreal Canadiens
' Carey Price
and the Philadelphia Flyers
' Sergei Bobrovsky
rank 1-2 in fan balloting.
It's even more impressive when you realize neither is listed on the 2011 All-Star Fan Balloting, presented by XM. That means fans had to go out of their way to write in their names.
For Price, it's a renaissance season in Montreal after a star turn by Jaroslav Halak
, last season's Stanley Cup Playoff hero. When Halak was traded to St. Louis in June, fans were aghast that the club would trade the player who backstopped postseason series wins against the Presidents' Trophy winning Capitals and Stanley Cup champion Penguins.
Instead, GM Pierre Gauthier opted to stick with Price, who had gone 13-20-5 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .912 save percentage and heard the catcalls from the Bell Centre crowd.
This season, Price has more than justified Gauthier's faith in him. Price enters the week with League-leading totals of 14 wins and four shutouts. His .935 save percentage is fourth in the League and his 1.95 GAA is fifth.
And Canadiens fans have taken to chanting his name at home, and have stuffed the ballot box with 145,726 votes, No. 1 among goalies and second only to Sidney Crosby
among all players.
Second to Price is Bobrovsky, the 22-year-old undrafted free agent who the Flyers signed out of Russia last May to almost no notice.
What is it about 'Bob?'
It was expected Bobrovsky would start his first North American season as the starting goaltender for the Flyers' AHL team, the Adirondack Phantoms. Instead, a strong training camp combined with a back injury to Michael Leighton
opened the door for Bobrovsky. All he's done since then is go 12-3-2, including a stretch of five straight wins and 10 straight without a regulation loss (9-0-1). His .926 save percentage and 2.19 GAA rank in the top 10 in the League, and his 12 wins are third.
"I didn't know who he was in camp," said teammate Sean O'Donnell
, but it didn't take long for the rest of the League to figure it out. Flyers fans desperate for a young goaltender they can call their own already have began chanting "Bob" after every save at the Wells Fargo Center. They've also cast 116,725 votes for him for the All-Star Game, making him the leading rookie vote-getter by a wide margin.
"Of course I do. I hear it," Bobrovsky, who speaks little English, said of the home fans. "At first it's really great, but they are not going to like you if don't play well and win."
Contact Adam Kimelman at email@example.com