On Tuesday night, the Philadelphia Flyers found a way to get a point in a shootout loss in spite of goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
Thursday night, Bobrovsky managed to gain them a point in spite of everyone else.
In an Atlantic Division battle with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Bobrovsky did all he could to carry the team to victory. Despite his extraordinary efforts, the team could do little to support him with just 20 shots on goal.
In the end, it would be Pittsburgh forward Chris Kunitz that sealed the Flyers fate in the shootout.
After the encouraging effort on the ice in the loss to the Capitals, it seemed like the Flyers had found the groove that they had been in earlier this season. When captain Mike Richards tallied the game’s first goal with 4:42 remaining in the first period, it looked as though they may regain that ‘groove’ again.
However, it was the same old story for the Flyers as they were beaten in puck battles, slow to loose pucks, and frequently hemmed in their own zone.
“I’m not sure if we thought it was going to be an easy game but it was a standard Pittsburgh Penguins game,” Richards lamented afterwards. “They worked hard and probably out hit us a little bit in our own building which is disappointing. I’m not sure if it was just a letdown after having a good game or we didn’t have our legs but it was disappointing stuff.”
The shot totals were a clear indication of Philadelphia’s lack of intensity on Thursday. Not only did the Flyers tie their season low of 20 shots, they failed to register one in the five minute overtime.
With Pittsburgh scrapping and clawing their way to opportunities with the intensity that the Flyers lacked, Bobrovsky remained strong.
“[Bobrovsky] had an off night the other night, everybody acknowledged it, and he came back tonight and was a difference maker,” said head coach Peter Laviolette. “He was a real bright spot for us tonight.”
Many expected that veteran backup Brian Boucher would get the nod in net on Thursday after Bobrovsky’s weak effort against the Capitals. However, Laviolette once again handed the reins to his rookie goalie. The young Russian didn’t disappoint.
As the regular season nears its conclusion, it seems like Laviolette is comfortable with Bobrovsky in net as the starter as he has started the team’s last three games. In performances like the one he turned in on Thursday, it seems like little thought will need to be given to the goalie position.
The Flyers seemed content in their offensive slumber and the Penguins fed off of their lethargy.
When Laviolette was asked about the team’s performance, he summed things up fairly succinctly. “There is no excuse for [playing poorly]…” he remarked. “We got beat in most areas and if it weren’t for our goaltender, we wouldn’t have gotten any points tonight.”
Kimmo Timonen agreed with his head coach statements, “Bob was great. He got us a point.”
The Flyers are facing more than a few questions heading into the playoffs, especially after the team lacked intensity in a game against a bitter division rival. However, Thursday may have given them one answer that they need: who’s their No. 1 goaltender. Many have openly wondered and analyzed if Bobrovsky is ready for the playoffs at such a young age.
On Thursday, he looked like the only player in Orange that was.