To a man, the Blue Jackets say they are confident that, at the end of their regular season, they will be in the playoffs.
Sergei Bobrovsky is perhaps the biggest reason for that confidence.
In Bob, they all trust.
“We have played some good hockey lately, and when you have a guy like that behind you, it makes you realize you can be a really good team,” Nick Foligno said.
“With Bob back there, we don’t have to worry about some things other teams do. We don’t mean to, but sometimes we take for granted how good he is. We know how important he is to this team, but some of those saves he makes look so easy are extremely tough. We know he’s there to do a job, and it’s our responsibility to do the job in front of him.”
For all the inconsistencies the Jackets have endured this season, the one thing they have been able to count on is the play of their goalie.
A two-time winner of the Vezina Trophy as the top goalie in the NHL, Bobrovsky says he is focused on each game as the Blue Jackets head down the stretch and try to work their way back into a playoff spot. Coming into Saturday, they were a point back of the New York Islanders for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We know we have one of the best guys in the league in net,” Brandon Dubinsky said. “When we’re not at our best, he can still get us points. He’s the biggest piece of this team. We know it; I think he knows it. If we’re going anywhere, it will be on his back. He works his tail off. He’s up to his challenge.”
On Friday, the Blue Jackets didn’t get much going against the Philadelphia Flyers and trailed 1-0 heading into the third period. Although Bobrovsky doesn’t score goals, he helped keep them in the game by making some key saves.
With 3:28 left, Cam Atkinson scored on a desperation backhand shot from the slot to tie the score. The Jackets lost in overtime but got a point in the standings despite playing their worst game in more than a week.
The Blue Jackets credited Bobrovsky for keeping that one close.
“Bob is one of the top goalies in the league,” coach John Tortorella said. “Teams who get a chance to compete in the playoffs have that goalie. It’s the most important position in the game. We have one of the best; he got us a point. We played good in spurts in the third period, but we’re not even close if he doesn’t make a couple of saves, especially in the third before we tied it.”
Although the Jackets found some scoring last week in wins over the Devils and Islanders, goals have come at a premium for much of the season. That lack of goal support has directly affected Bobrovsky as he becomes the prime reason for any success they might have.
Bobrovsky said he takes the same approach to his job regardless of how many goals his team is scoring. And although he said he approaches the game the same whether it’s the third of the season in October or during a run to the playoffs, he said he’s excited to play in these types of games.
“You have to be focused and be moving forward. Look straight up and ahead,” Bobrovsky said. “The past doesn’t matter; tomorrow is a new day and a new opportunity, and we have to fight for every point.
“There is pressure on us, but you can’t think too much about it. It’s all about the hockey. My job is to stop the puck. It’s fun right now. You want the results, but we all love the hockey, live for the game. I enjoy the process.”