It might be possible that Sergei Bobrovsky is the best, and also most underrated Blue Jacket of all time.
Playing through an era where Jack Johnson was the best defenseman on the team and Nikita Nikitin was getting major playoff minutes - Sergei Bobrovsky kept the Columbus Blue Jackets afloat while also putting them on the map as a contender.
He gets blamed for many playoff loses, yet is the reason they got there in the first place. To be fair, he may not be at his usual self in the postseason, but is also facing more pressure than most realize - Bobrovsky faced almost 37 shots per game each of the past two postseasons.
Okay, moving on from that can of worms...
He's done alright the past couple of years.
NHL Network released their rankings of the top-ten goaltenders in the league right now on Sunday night, and the Russian veteran and Blue Jackets fan-favorite topped the list:
Brian Boucher, former teammate of Bobrovsky in Philadelphia, helped break down three reasons why Sergei has been one of the most elite NHL goaltenders of the past few seasons:
"Cross-ice plays are not an issue for Sergei Bobrovsky. He is so powerful in his legs - his flexibility is so good, he's able to get to pucks that other goaltenders are just simply not able to get to."
Raise your hand if you've seen Bobrovsky go flying across the cress, abandoning his goalie stick in the process while making a highlight reel save at some point last season. It happened on what seemed every other night:
"Don't discredit the fact that he's great at reading plays. His save selection is typically the right one that he has to make."
Ironically, Bobrobsky typically lets in "easier" shots - usually a far-side odd man rush shot. Other than that, he shuts down breakaways consistently, prevents garbage goals and sniffs out one-timers as good as anyone else out there.
When it comes to anticipation - Bobrovsky is as good as it gets. He seemingly is three seconds ahead of everyone else, knowing when a back-door pass is coming or a loose puck is about to be swiped at.
Check out this game-saving play in March:
"He's not giving up on plays easily, which can erupt a bench and make guys be excited to play in front of you."
Bobrovsky bailing the Jackets out has become a commonality in the past five seasons, and it's definitely been a known weakness when playing the team: Beat Bob, you win.
Bob has practically laid his life on the line for saves to keep the Jackets from losing, and that's not necessarily the best thing, as admirable as it may be.
Columbus' defense has bulked up thankfully, though Bob may still always give maximum effort, even in regular season games, like here:
Okay, so those are the reasons that are easy to throw out there in a casual sports bar discussion. But if we want to get down to the nitty-gritty, Bob still proves his value:
In that case, Bob deserves his billing as perhaps the league's best G. Grubauer looked good too (but hasn't been a full-time starter). Luongo, Smith, Quick all showed well.— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) August 27, 2018
Price, Lehner, Allen, Bishop deserve scorn for have +xSv% but delivering below-avg results. pic.twitter.com/6VjYeF1CnA
Sergei Bobrovsky is coming up on the last year of his contract with the Blue Jackets, and is turning 30 years by the time the season starts.
Negotiation will begin soon (hopefully) if it hasn't begun already - and we will then know whether Bob will be in Columbus after next spring. With praise like this from the league, the man knows his worth.
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