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Florida Panthers ‘So Confident’ in Bobrovsky, Stolarz. For Good Reason



Panthers goalies
Anthony Stolarz and Sergei Bobrovsky. // AP Photos

SUNRISE — Do not tell the Calgary Flames that they were playing the backup goalie for the Florida Panthers on Saturday.

With the spectacular saves Anthony Stolarz made in Florida’s 5-1 win, it would be easy to understand their confusion.

Florida came into Sunday with two of the top goalies in the entire NHL.

And you don’t have to recite stats to the Panthers.

They know what they got in goal.

“You have the security of knowing that, no matter what, they are back there to take care of things,” Matthew Tkachuk said. “We came into the last game with a great mindset and knew exactly what we wanted to do, but we were a little slow to start the game. But Stoli made some unreal saves which allowed us to get settled in and get going. He has been doing that all year for us. We are so confident our goalies are going to be there for us, no matter what.”

Added Gus Forsling: “It is crazy. You look at what Stoli did in the last game; he saved us. He has been unreal whenever he gets the chance and you cannot say enough about Bob. He has just been so much of our success.”

Well, here are the stats anyway: Stolarz leads all goalies with at least 10 games played with a .925 save percentage; his 2.02 goals-against average also leads the NHL.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Florida’s starter tonight in Dallas, may end up being a Vezina Trophy finalist.

His 2.29 GAA ranks fourth; his .918 save percentage is ninth.

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The only team with two goalies in the top 10 in both categories is Winnipeg, with Vezina favorite Connor Hellebuyck and Laurent Brossoit.

Both rank among the top six in GAA and save percentage.

The Panthers certainly have one of the best, if not the, best goalie tandem in the NHL.

Calgary can certainly attest to that.

“You do not feel that you are sacrificing a game by playing the backup goalie and that is, sometimes, unique,” coach Paul Maurice said when asked how nice it was to not having to worry about which goalie was in on any given night.

“It is great to have a goaltenders like that. Very few organizations are as fortunate as we are when you look at the numbers those two have. The numbers of our backup goalie are elite. It has allowed for some rest for Sergei, and that allows for him to be at his best.’’

On Saturday, the Flames were stopped throughout the night as Stolarz showed out with some spectacular moves — going from one side of the cage to the other.

Perhaps his highlight save came in midway through the first when Andrew Mangiapane came in and went forehand-to-backhand. Stolarz committed and it looked like an empty net — only Stolarz’s left leg swept through and knocked the puck out.

“I saw that on NHL Network on Sunday morning and knew, in the moment, it was a crazy save,” Tkachuk said. “But … wow. Things happen so fast, we have to watch them on the highlight shows. But that’s the new normal for us. Those guys make crazy saves like that all the time. We really don’t want them too, but we know they are capable of it.”

Stolarz ended with 34 saves and now has a personal-best five-game wining streak.

In those five games, Stolarz has a 1.75/.943.

Stolarz is 8-1-1 in his past 10 starts. For the season, he is 13-5-2.

“It’s always fun when you can make some of those saves,’’ Stolarz said after the Calgary win. “They have a lot of skill, a couple guys tried some good moves. … It’s a lot of fun when you can make saves like that, it gets the guys going and, as a goalie, it feels like you can contribute and change the tide of the momentum.”

Bobrovsky, obviously, is no slouch either.

He has gone 14-3-1 since Jan. 1 and his .929 save percentage ranks fifth in that time — just a percentage point behind Stolarz at No. 4.

Stolarz and Bobrovsky also rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in GAA from Jan. 1 on at 1.98/1.99.

Goaltending, and strong defensive play, has been a hallmark of the Panthers throughout this season.

Florida leads the league in only allowing 152 goals this season and have an NHL-best plus-64 goal differential.

“We trust both of them,” Forsling said. “It is a fast game out there and things happen. There are bad breaks which results in breakaways — but they are there. Game changers, those two.”



  • When: Tuesday, 8 p.m.
  • Where: AmericanAirlines Center, Dallas
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida/ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5-FM2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932, NHL app
  • Last Season: Dallas won 2-0
  • This Season (Panthers Lead 1-0) — At Florida: Panthers 5, Stars 4 (Dec. 6). At Dallas: Tuesday.
  • All-time Regular Season Series: Florida leads 25-21-2, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Thursday @ Carolina, 7 p.m.

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