The finish line is within sight, which means Flyers coach Peter Laviolette will soon make his most important decision of the season: choosing which goalie will get a majority of the action in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Laviolette won't tip his hand, but, based on the way he has used his goalies lately, he seems to be leaning toward Sergei Bobrovsky, the 22-year-old rookie who is among NHL leaders in winning percentage (.632).
Entering Saturday, "Bob" had started five of the last seven games.
Bobrovsky and veteran Brian Boucher have been solid. Boucher has been a bit steadier, and you could argue that his experience - and his stickhandling edge over Bobrovsky - would be more beneficial in the postseason. Oh, and he has this on his resumé: He outplayed the great Martin Brodeur as the Flyers jolted the New Jersey Devils in last year's opening round of the playoffs.
Then again, Bobrovsky is the franchise's goalie of the future. If Laviolette gives Boucher most of the playoff starts, what will it do to Bobrovsky's confidence? Does that even matter?
Another question: Can a rookie withstand the added pressure of the playoffs and lead a team to the Cup?
Quite simply, yes.
In the last five seasons, two rookie goalies have helped steer their teams to championships: Antti Niemi did it for Chicago last year against the Flyers - he outplayed Michael Leighton - and Carolina's Cam Ward did it against Edmonton in 2006. (Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy are the only other rookie goalies to win Cups.)
Since Laviolette coached that Ward-led Carolina team, it might have an effect on his goalie decision this spring. Will it influence him to roll the dice with Bobrovsky, the unflappable Russian? Or will he opt for the "safe" choice and give the nod to Boucher?
Entering Saturday, Bobrovsky had played in 40 of 63 games, compiling a 24-10-4 record, a 2.48 goals-against average, and a .918 save percentage.
Which goalie will start in playoffs for the Flyers?
Philly.com | Mar 6