Confidence King for Bobrovsky at Flyers

There is no position on a rink that requires more confidence and more courage than that of goaltender. Under pressure throughout and expected to have a save percentage of over 91-93% without any thoughts to where are shots are coming from, the protection afforded by the defence on rebounds or the amount of time the goalie has spent on the ice.

For the Philadelphia Flyers the position of goalie has been a problematic one and has reached almost cult status. There is a belief in Philadelphia that you can’t win a Stanley Cup without a premium goalie regardless of the quality of your roster. Leighton last year even whilst hot was not comparable to the best starters in the NHL and Flyers fans are already worried about his presence as starter.

In Sergei Bobrovsky and Joacim Ericsson the Flyers have two genuine goaltending prospects with Bobrovsky moving above the longer serving Ericsson and at the age of 21 “Bob” has some pretty impressive stats. In the competitive KHL last year he put up a .927 save percentage and a 2.49 GAA whilst playing for a team that was nearer the bottom than the top. Ray Emery in 2008/9 posted .926 and 2.12 GAA in a similar number of games.

Bob plays a hybrid style of tending and can stay too high in front of the crease on bad days which can leave too much space in the five-hole area. This is an aspect of his game he is looking to work on and has excellent lateral speed along the crease. He will also need to work on his rebounding as currently these tend to drop far too close to him. These though are all minor criticisms and there are calls for him to be given the starter’s jersey with Michael Leighton’s injury ruling him out for a month.

The big question though remains: should a prospect goalie be thrown in at the deep end or allowed to come to speed with North American hockey by playing in the AHL for a month or two or maybe a season. For the Flyers fans who see dream of every prospect one day filling the huge hole in their roster there is a tendency to hope for too much too soon.

Ultimately Peter Laviolette will decide based not only on Bob’s abilities but also whether he has the personality and the confidence to make the step up. If he feels Bobrovsky has the necessary intangibles then it’s likely he will at least get a chance this season. For this writer though a few months in the AHL would do no harm and help his long-term progression.

We’ve had a look around the sportsbooks and as yet we haven’t found any props bets for who will play the most games as goalie this year for the Flyers but for all other types of hockey betting we have plenty to choose from – Stanley Cup futures anyone?

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