Regardless of Hart, Bobrovsky Has Heart

Posted Apr 16, 2013 Rob Kunz | 0 comments

A Hart Trophy Sergei Bobrovsky certainly plays the game of hockey with a lot of heart, and Blue Jackets fans certainly heart Bobrovsky.

The Russian net-minder is receiving a lot of love around the NHL these days, but could he actually be a contender for the Hart Trophy?

Yes.

If the season ended today, Bobrovsky probably wouldn’t be a finalist for the award, given the player determined to be most valuable to his team in the NHL.

Mainstays like Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin will garner attention, as will players on the top teams, such as Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, or Ryan Getzlaf from Anaheim. Up and coming talent like John Tavares (NY Islanders) and Steven Stamkos (Lightning) will also be mentioned in the race.

But what about Bob?

Just like the Bill Murray character in the movie with the above title, Sergei Bobrovsky isn’t going anywhere.

Despite splitting time with Steve Mason (since traded to Philadelphia) over the first 20 or so games, Bobrovsky has posted some sterling numbers on the season. He’s now 17-10-6 with a 2.03 GAA, .931 save percentage, and four shutouts.

Much like the Blue Jackets’ playoff chances, however, Bobrovsky faces a stiff uphill climb to even be named a finalist for the award.

First off, he would have to back-stop Columbus into the playoffs. While the NHL has taken notice of his play, and the Blue Jackets’, nothing would cement his legitimate candidacy more than a post-season appearance.

Secondly, history is not on his side. Much like the Cy Young/MVP discussion in baseball, goaltenders don’t often win the Hart, as they have the Vezina Trophy for themselves. Incidentally, barring some crazy five-game collapse to finish the season, Bobrovsky seems a lock to be a Vezina finalist.

The Hart Trophy has been awarded a total of 89 times, dating back to 1924. A goaltender has won the award just seven times, and only on three occurrences in the past 50 years.

Here is how Bobrovsky’s numbers stack up with those three most recent winners:

Season

Goaltender

Team

Conf place

Record

GAA

Save%

Shutouts

2012-13

Sergei Bobrovsky

Columbus

9th*

17-10-6

2.03

.931

4

2012-13

Sergei Bobrovsky (prorated 82 games)

Columbus

9th*

31-19-11

2.03

.931

8

2001-02

Jose Theodore

Montreal

8th

30-24-10

2.11

.931

7

1997-98

Dominik Hasek

Buffalo

7th

33-23-13

2.09

.932

13

1996-97

Dominik Hasek

Buffalo

2nd

37-20-10

2.27

.930

5

As you can see (especially when you prorate Bobrovsky’s numbers over a regular 82-game season, the numbers are extremely comparable, especially when you consider where the respective teams finished in the standings.

What that tells me is that in the past, goalies that play the way Bobrovsky is currently playing—and get their teams into the playoffs—get rewarded.

While compiling this research, the other thing that struck me was how the three seasons which have seemingly been the most enjoyable for Blue Jackets fans (2013-13, 2008-09 and 2000-01) all coincide with the three best seasons of goaltending play.

With all due respect to Mason, Ron Tugnutt and Pascal Leclaire’s under-rated campaign of 2007-08, Bobrovsky is clearly enjoying the greatest season of any Columbus puck stopper.

Season

Goaltender

Games

Record

GAA

Save%

Shutouts

2012-13

Sergei Bobrovsky

33

17-10-6

2.03

.931

4

2012-13

Sergei Bobrovsky (prorated 82 games)

62

31-19-11

2.03

.931

8

2008-09

Steve Mason

61

33-20-7

2.29

.916

10

2007-08

Pascal Leclaire

54

24-17-6

2.25

.919

9

2003-04

Marc Denis

66

21-36-7

2.56

.918

5

2000-01

Ron Tugnutt

53

22-25-5

2.44

.917

4

Bobrovsky appears poised to set new franchise marks for single season goals against average (Leclaire’s2.25 in 2007-08), as well as save percentage (Leclaire’s .919 in the same year).

The biggest question moving forward is can Bobrovsky sustain this play over an entire regular season, one of the 82-game variety? Is this just the beginning, or just a flash in the pan?

I don’t believe that Bobrovsky will ultimately be a Hart Trophy finalist; although I do think he is worthy of such nod.

I’m also of the opinion that this is just the beginning. He may not have Hart in 2013, but he can be the heart of soul of the Blue Jackets moving forward; a literal wall in net...built brick by brick.