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Columbus has a serious Vezina candidate in Bobrovsky

Mar 27, 2013, 12:44 PM EDT

Sergei Bobrovsky Getty Images

Where would the Columbus Blue Jackets be without Sergei Bobrovsky?

Not in the playoff race, that’s for sure.

Bobrovsky was brilliant again last night in a 1-0 shootout loss to the Canucks in Vancouver. The 24-year-old stopped all 34 shots he faced in 65 minutes and was named the game’s first star for his efforts.

With his third shutout of the season, Bobrovsky’s save percentage rose all the way to .930, second among those with at least 10 starts to Ottawa’s injured netminder, Craig Anderson (.952).

Jackets defenseman Adrian Aucoin certainly appreciates what Bobrovsky has done for the team.

“It just makes less pressure for everybody else,” Aucoin said recently, per NHL.com. “You get that confidence where even if you give up a two-on-one, you have a feeling he’ll make that save. You’re never worried about him so you worry about the things that matter more to you. … It’s a luxury to have guys you can count on.”

At a cost of three draft picks, Bobrovsky was traded to Columbus in June from Philadelphia. Unfortunately for since-fired general manager Scott Howson, the move came at least a year too late. If Howson had successfully addressed his team’s goaltending the previous summer, instead of rolling the dice with Steve Mason, the nightmare season of 2011-12 would likely have gone quite differently.

At the very least, Howson can say he landed a Vezina candidate for the Jackets.

In a few months, he might be able to say he landed a Vezina winner.

Other candidates in the wide-open race for best goalie include Anderson, Henrik LundqvistTuukka Rask, Carey Price, Jimmy Howard, Marc-Andre Fleury, Antti Niemi, Corey Crawford, Niklas Backstrom, Pekka RinneKari Lehtonen, and making a late charge, Cory Schneider.

Again, it’s wide open.

But if the season ended today, Bobrovsky would be right in the conversation.

And if he can do the impossible and get the Jackets into the playoffs, well, how could anyone vote against him?

  1. jpelle82 - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    poor philly…

    • davebabychreturns - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      Boy, if they could go back in time and blow their free agent wad on a guy like Jamies Wisniewski instead it might have changed things pretty drastically for that franchise.

      I mean Wiz isn’t a bigtime player per se but he shoots right (they gave up JVR to get a a righty instead), he plays with a bit of snarl and has an offensive game, he could have made a guy like Matt Carle redundant and the Flyers could have moved him for someone of value a year and a half ago rather than losing him for nothing and throwing their blueline even further into disarray.

      Meanwhile it’s pretty debatable whether Bryz has given them better goaltending that Bob could have.. and despite Ilya’s monster contract the biggest problem on that team (the blueline) remains unaddressed.

    • chanceoffleury1 - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      Add to that, poor Rick Nash. At least going into the season he always expected he’d have to carry the BJs offense, probably caught him a little off guard having to carry the offense of a reigning ECF team and the standout preseason Cup favorites. If Columbus makes the playoffs and the Rangers miss them, after you’re done laughing you kinda feel a little bad for the guy. He just wanted a chance to maybe set up his tee time a few weeks later than normal and he just can’t catch a break.

    • filadelphiaphlyers - Mar 27, 2013 at 4:18 PM

      SMH. Theres some salt on the Philly wound.

    • eigglesnosuperbowls - Mar 27, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      Not really some guys can’t play in city’s that have expectations its called pressure !

  2. killerpgh - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    If he gets the BJ’s to the playoffs he should win the MVP of the league. You would be hard pressed to find a players who would be move valuable to his team if the BJ’s make the playoffs.

  3. bgrillz - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    And olny about 100 million cheaper than Bryzgalov…whoops Paul Homgren.

  4. brianforster - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:03 PM

    next article: Philadelphia has a serious buyout candidate in Bryzgalov

  5. sjsharks86 - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    You have to throw Ray Emery’s name in there when talking about Vezina candidates, I think he still has a perfect win record.

    • brianforster - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:49 PM

      even more impressive is that he came back from the same disease that effected bo jackson (albeit with the help of modern medicine that was not around for bo).

      a bonus laugh is that he is also an ex-flyers goalie.

      • brianforster - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        darnit, AFFECTED not effected.. sorry grammar gods

  6. JoeAvg - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    I remember seeing him in his first exhibition game vs. the Pens several years back. You could tell even then that he had all the tools. Kudos to the Jackets coaching staff to get him to stand taller in net. His game has really come into form.

  7. hockeyfan28 - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:52 PM

    His side to side movement is as good as anyone’s in the league the book on him was to beat him high
    looks like he got a good goaltending coach to tutor him on how to cover more net….hint to Philly coaching matters

  8. phillyphanatic77 - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Bob always had a tendency to crouch too low, exposing himself to top shelf shots, but even with that defect he still showed a ton of talent in his first two seasons in Philly. The dude has lightning quick reflexes and is extremely flexible. Good thing we finally developed a young goaltender, for the first time in years, only to essentially trade him for an even more raw goaltender (Anthony Stolarz). I like Holmgren but the decision to replace a young, athletic Russian with an old, slow Russian has really set the franchise back. We had a franchise goalie in our midst and we keep the aging, average, overpaid one! It’s great to see Bob living up to his potential but it should’ve been in orange and black. Howson deserves some credit here.

    • JoeAvg - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:27 PM

      Agree with you on Howson. Interesting how in hindsight some of his moves don’t look too bad. But I have to disagree on Holmgren, he seems to be the opposite. At first his decisions appear to make sense but later you look back and say “What was he thinking?”.

      If they only manufactured those crystal balls.

    • maalea - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:13 PM

      The way I remember it was that it was more an Ed Snider call on bringing in Bryz and they couldn”t keep both last year.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Mar 27, 2013 at 4:37 PM

        Yeah you’re right, but part of the job as GM is taking both blame and praise for all your moves. And the Bryz signing will be filed under the reign of Holmgren, despite Snider’s clear influence.

    • hockeyfan28 - Mar 27, 2013 at 4:12 PM

      Stolarz is legit his numbers in the toughest league in Canada are terrific but he won’t see the NHL for at least two years

      • phillyphanatic77 - Mar 27, 2013 at 4:35 PM

        I’m not saying he doesn’t have a chance to be an NHL starter down the road. I watched a few of his junior games and he looked lights out. Combine that with his size (6’5”) and he looks like a promising prospect, to say the least. But, like you said, it’ll be atleast 2 years, probably more like 3 or 4 before he makes the jump to the NHL. He’s very, very raw. And I know hindsight is 20/20 but I always liked Bob more than Bryz so I just wish Homer had held onto him. I sure as hell can’t watch 7 more years of Bryzgalov.

      • hockeyfan28 - Mar 27, 2013 at 7:10 PM

        Oh I agree I don’t think Bryz gets bought out this summer though unless they swing a reasonable deal for Ryan Miller or someone like that since he’s all but gone in Buffalo. They need two blue liners and a big scoring forward to even get this team to competing for a playoff spot but I agree it’s great to see Bob do well he had talent and evidentially their goaltending coach is a little better then Jeff Reese

  9. jacketsfan7 - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    I love bobby , even before he came to Columbus , if the jackets make the playoffs he should no doubt about be In the top three candidates for the vezina , I don’t care if he wins or not , he deserves it tho

  10. jacketsfan7 - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Also the way he played was amazing , great Amnesia over that awful Nashville game , after giving up 4 goals and getting pulled in the first , to get a shutout the next game , that’s a special player

  11. chanceoffleury1 - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    To me, Anderson and Bobrovsky are the only serious candidates as of now. The fact their teams are in playoff talks/positions are directly their doing. Anderson has had solid backup in Ottawa, but he has just been lights out since the drop of the puck on January 19th. I don’t care if he was hurt for a while, he had a sub-1.00 GAA for a chunk of the season and averages half a goal less per game than any other starter in the league without his Norris winning defenseman or top forward. And with Bobrovsky, well, Columbus is 1 point out of the playoffs with the worst offense in the league and that’s all you really need to know. Nobody else can really say they’ve successfully carried their team like these 2 have.

    • 19to77 - Mar 27, 2013 at 5:11 PM

      Rask and Crawford have good cases. Can’t see how Rask is held out of the top 3 at least.

      • chanceoffleury1 - Mar 27, 2013 at 7:22 PM

        Rask has a top notch defense and generally healthy roster in front of him. He has a really low GAA and high S% though so I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he rightfully earns a nomination and rounds out the top 3. Don’t get me wrong, he has been INCREDIBLE and lived up to every expectation they had with Thomas leaving, but some of his numbers would probably drop if you put him outside of a defensive system.

        And Crawford/Emery go into the same category as Halak/Elliot did last year. In my opinion, if you can’t even establish yourself as the clear starter on your own roster, you’re obviously not the best, most irreplaceable goalie in the league. And again, playing with a top offense and reliable defense doesn’t exactly help their case. With Boston and Chicago, their goaltender hasn’t been the clear cut definition of their success in the standings. Not like it has with Columbus and Ottawa.

  12. wingsdjy - Mar 27, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    I just don’t see Jimmy Howard as a Vezina candidate. Yes, he puts up solid numbers, but at the end of the day he’s praised more for being a work-horse than for sparkling stats.

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