The Florida Panthers made huge waves last off season landing one of the most prominent UFA’s in goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. The general perception was, despite the high cap hit and lengthy term that, at least for the foreseeable future, the former two time Vezina winner would be a significant upgrade. Like so many things in 2020, they didn’t see this coming…
What We Thought:
After establishing himself as one of the best in the game with Columbus, and coming off an impressive first round upset over the heavily favoured Lightning, Bobrovsky was a coveted free agent and the Panthers seemed an ideal fit. Florida was viewed by many as a team with a talented core entering their prime, who with improved goaltending could make a significant leap forward.
Throw in the addition of one of the elite coaches in the league in Joel Quenneville, and the Panthers were arguably the consensus winner of the off season (New Jersey being the other so, shows what we know…). While most didn’t have them at the level of their in state rivals in Tampa, or Eastern Conference champions Bruins, they believed the upgrades would certainly make them a playoff contender in the Atlantic.
What Actually Happened:
Over the past few seasons the Panthers offence was never in question, with the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Barkov amongst the highest scorers in the league, but they were consistently dragged down by mediocre goaltending from James Reimer and (Twitter aficionado) Roberto Luongo. The acquisition of a two time all-star and multiple Vezina trophy winner seemed to even the most casual of fans, to be a significant upgrade. However, in 56 games ‘Goalie Bob’ posted a subpar 3.23 GAA and .900 save%. a far cry from his career average of 2.54 and .917 respectively. Now, this is in part due to Florida’s collective defensive struggles and captain Alexander Barkov’s drop off from his Selke nominated form.
Columbus was known for playing a rigidly structured defensive style under John Tortorella, which most, if not all goalies would theoretically benefit from it, but at a certain point, you need a save. His lacklustre regular season was followed by a quick four game loss to the Islanders in the qualifying round and seemingly more questions than answers. Perhaps this was simply an off year, adjusting to his new team and surroundings, or a harbinger of things to come. On the plus side, there’s only seven years left on his deal…
What do you think of Goalie Bob’s performance so far with the Panthers? Let us know by voting below!
Has Sergei Bobrovsky lived up to the hype for the #FlaPanthers?— The 4th Line Hockey Podcast (@4thLinePodcast) September 1, 2020