Sergei Bobrovsky’s 2018-19 campaign, unfair as it may be, stands out for what happened before and after the regular season. In training camp, he said he wouldn’t negotiate a contract during the season and started speaking in past tense about his time in Columbus. In the playoffs, he exorcised his postseason demons by engineering one of the most stunning upsets in hockey history and helping the Columbus Blue Jackets to their best season ever.
In between? Sixty-two games of not-quite-vintage-Bob-but-still-better-than-most goaltending, all with the drama and rumors of an unhappy fan favorite playing his probable last season in Columbus.
Bob didn’t start the season with his usual elite play, going 3-6-0 in his first nine starts with a .895 save percentage. Flashes of his talent began to resurface in November, where he went 7-1-0 over an eight-game stretch that saw him post a .932 save percentage. That Jekyll/Hyde dichotomy carried throughout much of the season, where runs of remarkable performances gave way to stretches where fans clamored for a Joonas Korpisalo change of pace. For instance: he followed up a First Star of the Week performance in December (4-0-0, 1.00 GAA and .970 save percentage) by posting an .857 save percentage over the next five games.
In early January, Bobrovsky was pulled from a stinker against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He left the ice, took a shower, and didn’t return to the bench. That reportedly earned him a talking-to from team leadership and a one-game “stay away” pseudo-suspension.
Luckily for the Blue Jackets, the 30-year-old Russian found his groove in February and March. Bob earned NHL Second Star of the Month honors in March thanks to four shutouts, a 9-4-0 record, a 1.74 GAA and a .940 save percentage.
After all that, Bob finished the year with a save percentage and goals against average that ranked barely better than league average...as well as a league-leading, career-high nine shutouts (one shy of Steve Mason’s franchise record). His 37 wins was the second-most in the NHL, too, behind Andrei Vasilevskiy...the man he throughly outplayed in Columbus’s opening-round sweep of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
About that series: Bob, the career playoff headcase (chief among the reasons he may leave Columbus may be because the team suggested he see a psychologist about all the postseason bed-crapping), simply shut down one of the most prolific offenses of all-time. He allowed only eight goals on 117 shots for a .932 save percentage, including an incredible stop on Nikita Kucherov that many say helped turn the tide of Game 1, and the series by extension.
In the final six games of the CBJ’s season, Bob turned in a .921 save percentage in the Boston series against a team that came within 20 minutes of a Stanley Cup.
It was a legitimate bummer to see one of the franchise’s real superstars—especially one so famously happy—sour on the club, but he turned in a solid season with a fantastic playoffs. We could write 10,000 words on Bobrovsky (and may), but that’s the book on 2018-19.
Sergei Bobrovsky 2018-19 Stats
Games played/started: 62/61
Save percentage: .913
Goals against average: 2.58
Goals saved above average: 5.27
EV/PP/SH save percentage: .915/.890/.909
Games played/started: 10/10
Save percentage: .897
Goals against average: .925
Goals saved above average: 5.27
EV/PP/SH save percentage: .934/.879/.846
Bobrovsky is an unrestricted free agent. He is almost certainly gone and will get paid a king’s ransom wherever he goes. He listed his condo awhile back, though his real estate agent says it doesn’t mean he’s leaving for sure...
It is a possibility.— Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre aka “The Hyphenator” (@JLGP34) May 23, 2019
You can go with his stretches in December, or November, or March, or his 46-save shutout of Carolina, or 39-save shutout of New Jersey...but this save and moment will live in CBJ fans’ memory for a long time.
Voluntarily hitting the showers against Tampa Bay in January and causing a team crisis. Looking back, it’s impressive how well the team responded to that.
How would you rate Sergei Bobrovsky’s 2018-19 season?
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