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Bobrovsky Coming Up Big During Panthers Homestand

by Jameson Olive / @JamesonCoop / FloridaPanthers.com

CORAL SPRINGS, Fla. - Sergei Bobrovsky is starting to hit his stride.

After overcoming some early-season adversity, the 31-year-old goaltender has been nothing short of spectacular for the Florida Panthers in recent games, stringing together four-straight starts in which he's stopped a combined 136 of 142 shots to lead the team to a 2-2-0 record.

"He looks like he's in complete control," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said after Friday's practice at the Panthers IceDen. "He looks quick and he's finding pucks. I think the traffic in front of him has helped him as well. He just seems like he's comfortable and letting the puck come to him. His rebound control has also been good. He's had four really good games in a row for us."

Joining the Panthers on a seven-year contract this past summer, Bobrovsky went through some understandable growing pains during the first month or so of the season. And after consecutive losses late in November, he was given two games off to, as Quenneville described it, reassess.

In that time, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner worked closely with goaltending coach Robb Tallas during the team's practices to get his overall game back to where he wanted it to be.

"I think it was kind of a mini training camp for them," Quenneville said of Bobrovsky's time with Tallas, who is in his 11th season with the Panthers. "I thought they had a good time every day. On the ice, I thought he had a really good week of practice. You could see the progress there."

Making a triumphant return to the crease after a 10-day hiatus, Bobrovsky stopped 33 of 34 shots in a 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Dec. 7. Less than 24 hours later, he stood tall once again while making 30 saves in a 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks on Dec. 8.

"I had time to reset, refocus and calm down a little bit," Bobrovsky said when asked about his early-season adjustments. "[I need to] do my things and try to give the team a chance to win."

He's certainly been doing that.

Despite not earning the win in either of his last two starts, Bobrovsky has put the Panthers in a good position to pick up two points in both contests. In Tuesday's 2-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning and Thursday's 3-1 loss to the New York Islanders, he stopped 73 of the 77 shots that were fired in his direction.

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In Tuesday's loss to the Lightning, he made a season-high 46 saves.

"He's been amazing," Panthers defenseman Keith Yandle said. "Obviously he is what he's advertised as. He's arguably the best goalie in the world. With the way he's playing we've obviously got to be better in front of him, but to see him play at this level is fun."

One of the most eye-popping statistics during Bobrovsky's four-game stretch of dominance has been his nearly-infallible performance at even-strength, where he's stopped 114 of 117 shots for a .974 save percentage. Against New York and Columbus, he allowed no goals at 5-on-5 play.

The quality of some of those shots has been nothing to sneeze at either.

According to NautralStatTrick.com, Bobrovsky stopped 29 of 30 shots coming from high-danger areas on the ice -- such as in the low slot or around the crease -- at 5-on-5 in those four games.

"It's one of those things where we he does bail us out like that, we've got to find a way to grab the momentum and take it in our favor after something like that," Yandle said of Bobrovsky's penchant for making big saves. "If he continues to do that, I think we'll be in a good spot."

With Bobrovsky oozing confidence, the Panthers are feeling good heading into their matchup against the Atlantic Division-leading Boston Bruins on Saturday. Owning a 15-11-5 record on the season, Florida has gone 3-3-0 on its franchise-record, nine-game homestand thus far.

"My job is to give the team a chance to win," said Bobrovsky, who sits at 11-8-4 this season, said after Thursday's loss to the Islanders. "I try my best to do that. It was still a good hockey game. It was a tight game, fun to play. We're going to forget that one and get ready for Boston."

At home this season, Bobrovsky is 8-42 with a .914 save percentage and one shutout.

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