All Eyes Are on Philadelphia Flyers’ Bobrovsky Once Again: Fan’s Take

Last season the Philadelphia Flyers began their iced efforts with Sergei Bobrovsky unexpectedly manning the crease in a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Bobrovsky has been asked to cover the Flyers crease due to injury.
Sean OBrien

Now, as they are battling the Penguins for 2012 playoff positioning, the Flyers have again called on Bobrovsky to backstop their seasonal efforts. The sophomore goaltender will be starting in net tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Seems like yesterday

Bobrovsky was part of the crowd on the Flyers alternate ice surface at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J., in the fall of 2010. I barely knew who he was, but noticed his quick reflexes and thought that he might find a spot with the team at some undetermined future point. That thought lifted me a few years into the future.

As the weeks of that particular training camp rapidly progressed, so too did the career of the man whose name was shortened to 'Bob'. The Russian native played so well, that head coach Peter Laviolette tapped him as his season-opening starter.

Due to organizational decisions, Michael Leighton spent the season after his Stanley Cup performance against the Chicago Blackhawks with the Adirondack Phantoms and Brian Boucher basically served as Bobrovsky's backup.

The 22-year-old crafted a fine rookie campaign, posting 28 wins, a .915 save percentage and a 2.59 GAA. A general erosion of the Flyers defensive effort affected Bobrovsky's six playoff appearances, as his save percentage (.877) and GAA (3.23) showed.

Observational development

Due to a sobering 2011 Semi-Finals sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins and with no other rookie sensation on the horizon, general manager Paul Holmgren obtained the rights to Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov last June. Inking him to a nine-year contract indicated that Bobrovsky's immediate future was going to be focused on observational development, rather than regular game action.

Due to Bryzgalov becoming the number 1 netminder this season, Bobrovsky has appeared in less than half (25) of the games that he did last season (54).

It's a stretch to think that he can move off the bench and somehow rekindle the regular season iced magic that he performed a year ago. As to whether he should also be expected to carry the team through the first playoff round is another question that might not need to be answered.

If Bryzgalov's foot injury proves to be a relatively minor matter, which is unknown at this point, then he may be available by the time the postseason begins. If 'Bryz' isn't ready to go by then, all eyes will unexpectedly stay focused on 'Bob' once again.

Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.

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Updated Thursday, Mar 29, 2012