Russian rookie Bobrovsky surprise starter in Flyers opener
When it comes to goaltending in Philadelphia, surprises are relative. But Thursday’s announcement by head coach Peter Laviolette, made through the team’s website, that 22-year-old Russian rookie Sergei Bobrovsky would start the Flyers season opening game in Pittsburgh later that night qualifies as a shocker by any standard.
Count incumbent Brian Boucher, who was expected to play, among the most surprised.
“I’m shocked,” Boucher told reporters in Pittsburgh after the morning skate.
That Bobrovsky was even on the roster would have been a surprise before incumbent No.1 Michael Leighton was lost for the first month of the season to a bulging disk in his back. But once the opening was created – and with returning third-stringer Johan Backlund still recovering from offseason hip surgery – Bobrovsky grabbed the opportunity firmly, posting a 3-0-1 record, 1.76 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in preseason.
Of course Boucher also posted a .939 save percentage and 1.90 goals-against in preseason.
“It’s not just based on a day or two,” Laviolette said. “From the time he’s been here, he’s been sharp. Every game, every situation, every practice, every scrimmage, he’s looked really good. I think (Boucher) came in and he played well. You’ll see both goaltenders early in the season here, but we had to have a starting point somewhere. And I really like the way (Bobrovsky) has put together a body of work in the last month. He’s been very sharp every day.”
Read inGoal Magazine’s feature story about the fast rise of Bobrovsky in Philly.
See pictures of Bobrovsky’s new Flyers mask.