When netminder Sergei Bobrovsky was pegged the starter for the season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins, there was a faint hope in the minds of Flyers fans that they had finally found their true, number one goaltender. The young Russian goaltender has needless to say, come out of nowhere. Winning 28 games this season, and having a superb first half of the season (much like the rest of the Flyers team), Bob was tapped to be the starter in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, and so Flyers fans held the breath once again in thinking that their search for a goaltender had finally ended.
Yet, after allowing only one goal in Game 1, and then having a horrific Game 2, Bobrosky was thrown under the bus. Peter Laviolette chose to go with the more veteran, composed goaltender in Brian Boucher while Bobrovsky watched from the bench. It is in my opinion, one of the worst decisions Laviolette has made as Flyers coach.
That said, there is no reason to look back at the season just yet. The Boston series is not over, and the Flyers can really help themselves by avoiding the sweep tonight against the Bruins--with Bobrovsky in net.
While media pundits are throwing the entire Flyers team under the bus, and rightfully so, saying the team will not regain it's magic from last year's miracle, the Flyers can do a lot of good by putting Bobrovsky in net. The worst that can happen is that they lose, series over, season over. The players can head back to Philadelphia and clean out their lockers.
Or they could come together as team, come together in front of Bobrovsky and try and right the ship. Either way, starting Brian Boucher will not help the team in the future. Bobrovsky has two more years in his contract, and in some ways is the Flyers future. (certainly, once the Flyers do eventually get eliminated this playoffs, there will be a number of questions as to what to do about the goaltending...) Laviolette should give him another go in the playoffs, as playoff experience is a rewarding experience whether it's trying to go the next round, or trying to avoid the sweep.
A few of the Flyers beat writers have already mentioned the difficulty the Flyers will have in trying to land a true number one goaltender. They will have trouble with the salary cap, but also in having to move possibly one of their core players as well. That's a lot of risk and shuffling around for one player, and it will certainly go against the notion of Holmgren's idea of "winning now". And once again, the question of Bobrovsky comes into play. The kid won 28 games this season, started 52 games. Are the Flyers really going to risk hurting his potential by bringing in a true number one goaltender? Would that really be effective, or helpful for Bobrovsky?
When the Flyers season is finally over, the masses of people will for the umpteenth time make mention of the failure in goaltending as the reason why the team isn't hoisting the Stanley Cup this season. Make no mistake about it, goaltending was certainly an issue this postseason, but it is not the reason why they lost. Sure, Brian Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Michael Leighton all share the burden of letting in some horrendous goals in both series. Yet, nearly all of the goals that were scored shouldn't have had been scoring chances in the first place. The celebration this last off-season of Paul Homlgren going out and getting a very strong third defensive pairing was tremendous, and yet it's defensive lapses that have been the pain in the side for the Flyers.
At any rate, Flyers fans should look back at the first half of the season and at least remember that their team once had a powerful stride to it. Unfortunately, their season may end tonight against a team that they will forever be linked in history with--the Boston Bruins. And who knows, maybe the Flyers pull a rabbit out of their hat and win tonight, just to make it interesting.