'Same old Bobby': Panthers aren't worried about Sergei Bobrovsky after Game 4 benching

Jordan McPherson, Miami Herald on

Published in Hockey

Sergei Bobrovsky has already turned the page.

The Florida Panthers expect nothing less.

Panthers coach Paul Maurice pulled his star goaltender 25 minutes into Florida’s 8-1 blowout loss to the Edmonton Oilers in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final on Saturday — their first chance to win the Stanley Cup after going up 3-0 in the best-of-7 series — after Bobrovsky had given up five goals on just 16 shots against.

But one would be hard pressed to find any semblance of dejection or disappointment in Bobrovsky’s demeanor heading into Game 5, which is scheduled for an 8 p.m. puck drop Tuesday at Amerant Bank Arena.

“He was the same old Bobby,” Panthers backup goaltender Anthony Stolarz said after practice Monday in Fort Lauderdale. “He’s a happy-go-lucky guy. He likes to smile, like to crack a joke here and there. ... It’s nice to see him smile and know he’s already started to put this in the rearview mirror.”

That’s Sergei Bobrovsky in a nut shell. He understands the big picture and the perspective of what happened on Saturday. It was not ideal, but the loss is over with. It was one game. There’s nothing that can be done to change what happened. His singular focus has to be on what lies ahead.

“That’s pretty much it,” Bobrovsky said. “I try to just stay with the moment. Whether it’s good or bad, it doesn’t matter. You just move to the next one.”

And why are the Panthers so confident Bobrovsky will return to form Tuesday?

“Because he’s Bob,” defenseman Dmitry Kulikov said.

A quick reminder of just how good Bobrovsky has been for the Panthers in these playoffs: He entered Game 4 with a 2.07 goals against average, .916 save percentage and a pair of shutouts through 20 playoff games. In the first three games against Edmonton, he had a staggering .953 save percentage, stopping 82 of 86 shots faced — including a 32-save shutout in Game 1.

When factoring in Saturday’s performance, Bobrovsky has allowed 47 goals this postseason. Of those 47, 20 have come over four games. He didn’t allow more than three in any of the other 17 outings, including 15 games with two or fewer goals allowed.

“He’s a competitor,” defenseman Gustav Forsling said. “That’s just how he is. He’s a pro. That’s why he’s that good.”

It’s also essential to put Saturday’s game in relation to Bobrovsky in context. The Panthers’ usual lockdown defense had its lapses in Edmonton, and the Oilers capitalized. They beat Florida with a dominant rush game, with Florida’s defense leaving Bobrovsky out to dry in a slew of high-danger situations.

So from that standpoint, Maurice isn’t worried about his goaltender.


“There’s no bounceback,” Maurice said. “It’s not like we were playing lights out and he was having a tough night. We got him out of there because he wasn’t going to have anything to do with anything positive that might happen. ... He comes to play like everybody else.”

That especially has been true when Florida has needed a reset in the playoffs.

In the Panthers’ five games following a loss this postseason, Bobrovsky is 4-1 with a 1.97 goals against average and .914 save percentage. The only time Bobrovsky and the Panthers lost consecutive games this postseason came in Games 2 and 3 of the Eastern Conference final, both of which were overtime defeats.

Florida rattled off six consecutive wins after that — the final three games of the Eastern Conference final and the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final — and Bobrovsky had a .944 save percentage (151 saves on 160 shots) and 1.50 goals against average in those games.

“He’s done it day in and day out this season,” said Stolarz, who stopped 16-of-19 shots he faced in relief of Bobrovsky on Saturday in what was his first ever playoff appearance let alone an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final. “That’s one of the things that makes him such an elite goalie.”

What also matters, his teammates said, is Bobrovsky’s care factor for the team. Individually, it was a rough night for Bobrovsky after being stellar for the Panthers all postseason.

But after getting benched, his focus was on supporting his teammates and trying to stay optimistic about the group overall.

“He’s very mentally strong,” Panthers forward Vladimir Tarasenko said. “He’s worked a lot on his mental toughness over the years. Just a good guy to be around. He always cares about his teammates. He’s always in a good mood.”

The past is in the past. The opportunity is still in front of Bobrovsky.

It’s on to Tuesday and Game 5.

“It’s a new game. It’s all starting from the beginning. It’s a 0-0 score,” Bobrovsky said. “I’m getting ready for the next shot.”


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