Sergei Bobrovsky has had his share of playoff struggles through an otherwise vaunted career.
Entering the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Bobrovsky held career postseason marks of 3–10–1 with a 3.63 GAA and an .887 save percentage. A far cry from his career numbers: a 2.44 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
Some members of the Blue Jackets fan base had even taken to calling his postseason persona “Playoff Bob,” a biting knock on his lack of success in his two previous trips to the Stanley Cup Playoffs as a Blue Jacket.
In Sunday night's 5-4 Game 2 win over the Washington Capitals, his play was on another level.
Bobrovsky made 54 saves – stopping 93% of the shots he faced – many of them in spectacular fashion, as he single-handedly willed his team to a win with his play. The 54 stops is a new career postseason high for the Blue Jackets goalie, who has only surrendered two even strength goals to the Capitals in the first two games of the series.
Those are impressive numbers against any team, but against a Capitals squad that is known for generating quality looks – oh, and happens to have the seven-time NHL leader in goals on the roster – well, that's a feat tougher than a Russian turnip. But Bobrovsky was hotter than a fresh bowl of borscht on Sunday night, making saves like this one:
— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) April 16, 2018
Or this one:
— 1st Ohio Battery (@1stOhioBattery) April 15, 2018
Following the win, Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella took note of Bob's brilliance.
"That's one of the best goaltending performances I've seen in quite awhile," he said.
Cam Atkinson agreed with his coach's take.
“He made some unbelievable, unbelievable saves for us,” Atkinson said of Bobrovsky. “He kept us in the game, like he always does.”
“He made some unbelievable, unbelievable saves for us.”– Cam Atkinson on Sergei Bobrovsky
If the nature of Sunday's game was any indication, the Blue Jackets are going to need more of the same from Bobrovsky to make a deep run through the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It will probably take more than one performance of this nature for Bobrovsky to shed the "Playoff Bob" stigma. But as usual, the two-time Vezina winner is only worried about the things he can control.
"I can't choose how many shots I'm going to face," Bobrovsky said. "I just have to play my game."
Or maybe Bob truly never had a playoff problem. Maybe he just had the misfortune of meeting a Stanley Cup championship-caliber team with the best player of this generation and plenty of offensive help in his two previous postseason series, both against the Pittsburgh Penguins.