Trying To Understand The Mind of Blue Jackets Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky

By Sam Blazer on April 30, 2018 at 12:40 pm
Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky
Aaron Doster – USA TODAY Sports

Let's start with this.

It's never the best idea to use anecdotal evidence to support your argument. What it does, though, is give you some insight into what's happening with a certain person.

When I was five years old, I played on an indoor travel soccer team. I played goalie and I could not have been more excited. I showed up to the first game expecting us to have a competitive game. Considering we played scrimmages before that were close, it felt like we had a real chance. Being so young, it also felt like the first opportunity to play in an environment that felt like "the pros." 

What I eventually got was a drubbing.

Our opponent was much more experienced despite playing in the same age group as us. It was breakaway after breakaway; time and again, I was one-on-one with a player. Before long, the score was 10-0 and I was still in the game as a goalie. 

After the game, five-year-old Sam asked my coach why I was left in, and also why no one played defense. I committed two cardinal sins for goalies, and even then, I was met with a "you have to play better." 

I would go on to play goalkeeper until I was 14, but anytime I went onto the field, I thought about the time that I was scored on at will. It psychologically messed with me, and playing the game was never the same. 

I use this anecdote for a reason: it makes me think about Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. He needed to better in the first round against Washington, but he also faced high-danger shots at a level that many goaltenders haven't been seen this postseason. 

Including goaltenders still participating in the playoffs, Bobrovsky has faced the second-most high danger chances in the tournament. That isn't good. It's a pattern that also happened the year prior against Pittsburgh – Bobrovsky is facing tougher shots than his competition. 

You can criticize what Bobrovsky has done in the postseason, but he's facing shots that no other goaltender has to face. He's facing breakaways and staring down players alone in the slot. He's an all-world goaltender, but he can't do it alone.

The Blue Jackets have great defensemen, but the strategy between the regular season and postseason is remarkably different. 

The blame may still fall at Bobrovsky's feet. That's understandable given his pay. What needs to happen is a change in style of play for him to get his feet underneath him. At this point, it wouldn't surprise me if a mental hurdle was in place. He has been under fire whenever he gets to the postseason – and his team desperately needs to help him out for the Blue Jackets to improve in the long term.

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