So this is now the third time I am writing this article due to my piece of shit laptop crashing more times than a meth head with 40 quarts of Red Bull in his goddamn stomach. This time I’ll just save the son of a bitch in my WORD documents with every paragraph I enter.
Alright, so I don’t know about any of you but this NHL off season crept slower than a bowel movement after a 10 day cheese eating binge. I couldn’t wait for Thursday to come. When I woke up Thursday morning and realized I had to wait just 11 more hours until the official puck drop of the 2010-2011 season, I felt more excited than the family dog finding the kitty litterbox in an empty house.
Days before the opening game, Philadelphia experienced an all too familiar gut wrenching misfortune; our starting goalie Michael Leighton was put onto long-term injured reserve with back issues and will have to undergo partial discectomy surgery. So once again the Flyers had one giant question mark between the posts.
That void was filled after Peter Laviolette made the announcement that goalie prospect Sergei Bobrovsky would take over the helm against the Pittsburgh Penguins on opening night in Pittsburgh’s new barn.
Due to Sergei “Bobs” Bobrovsky’s solid preseason performance, Laviolette’s executive decision made some sense to me. Granted Bobs has spent the past 3 years playing in the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) on wider European ice, he seemed to adapt his play to the North American style of hockey quickly, and very well. His speed and dexterity has already christened him the future goalie of the Philadelphia Flyers, a position that has been open ever since the days of Hextall. So what better way to test this than to throw him in front of arguably the best offensive assault in the Eastern Conference?
It turns out Laviolette’s genius spun another incredible web because Bobs ended Thursday night with a Penguins defeat, 29 saves out of 31 shots, and a .935 SV%. Skeptics may argue that it’s just one game and we haven’t seen what this 22 year old can and cannot do. But I beg to differ.
Again I bring up that this was a major test for Bobrovsky – and a test he passed with the flying color of orange.
Sergei’s focus, side-to-side movement between the posts, and glove-side/stick-side high protection looked like poetry written on ice. Am I getting ahead of myself? Maybe. Am I allowing myself to get excited over one game when we have 81 more to go? Absolutely. But what Bobs in net showed me Thursday night is that you can be quick to make a rash decision and have the possibility of benefitting from it.
Although Bobrovsky looked great in goal, the rest of the game looked a bit sloppy. There were some fundamental mistakes from both benches that you would expect this early in the season. However, that didn’t stop Danny Briere, Blair Betts and Claude Giroux from sinking the biscuit past Penguins goalie, Marc-Andre Fleury, and ending with a victorious score of 3 – 2.
There’s no question Sergei Bobrovsky had all eyes on him every minute of that game. What made me feel great was when halfway through the 2nd period, as I sat on the couch next to my buddy in his throwback Mario Lemieux Penguins sweater, I look over at him and he’s shaking his head screaming, “HOW DID HE STOP THAT!?” followed by some profanity and a middle finger flipped to the television.
I felt proud….almost like a parent when his kid hits a double in little league and sends in 1 or 2 RBI’s and all the parent wants to do is tell the others, “SUCK IT! THAT’S MY KID OUT THERE, YOU BASTARDS!” Of course I laughed, gave him a jab or a slap over his shoulder and said things like, “See that!? That’s Sergei! You’ll be seeing a lot more of that guy!”
In fact, by the beginning of the 3rd period I had busted my friend’s balls so much I thought I was going to be wearing his beer home.
Tonight the Flyers take on the Blues in St. Louis, and GUESS who’s in net! If you recall, the Blues signed Jaroslav Halak in the off season. The same Halak who was talked about as being the second coming of Patrick Roy. The same Halak who led the Montreal Canadiens into the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year and defeated offensive powerhouses like the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The same Halak who then got burned to the ground by a Cinderella Flyers squad in the Eastern Conference Finals!
So maybe ol’ Jaroslav still has a chip on his shoulder and is looking for revenge? There’s only one way to find out.
Peter Laviolette hasn’t announced who will be starting in net for the Flyers this evening, but I think it would be a mistake not to start Bobrovsky. You took a chance with the kid on opening night, now it’s time to stick to your guns and allow him to gain some confidence and test his durability. We all know what we’re getting with Boucher. You cannot teach an old dog new tricks. But if Sergei continues this star performance then he may answer that question in net for good. And ooooh how refreshing that would be. If you think about it, in a little over a year the Flyers have juggled starters like Biron, Emery, Boucher and Leighton, and for once it would be fantastic to know that the one currently in net will be our guy for YEARS to come.
::save; cut; print…..glass of scotch::