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2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Sergei Bobrovsky a Wall, but Florida Panthers Defense Making a Difference

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Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has stopped 132 of out 135 shots (.978) in the first three games of the Eastern Conference finals against the Carolina Hurricanes. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

SUNRISE — It is not hard to understand why Carolina finds itself down 3-0 in the Eastern Conference finals to the Panthers. It is Sergei Bobrovsky.

In the opening three games of this series, Bobrovsky has played parts of 14 periods and has given up three goals on 135 shots faced.

That is a save percentage of .978 — and that is simply phenomenal.

According to NaturalStatTrick.com, Bobrovsky leads all goalies this postseason with a goals-saved above average with 13.95; Carolina’s Frederik Anderson is second at 6.98.

In all situations this postseason, Bobrovsky has an expected-goals against of 48.1 but has given up 30.

Carolina has an expected-goal rate of over 14 goals in this series but has only put three past Bobrovsky.

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“Not to diminish what he is doing, but almost every year there is that story where a goalie gets into a rhythm,” coach Paul Maurice said Tuesday, a day after Bobrovsky got his first career playoff shutout by beating the Hurricanes 1-0 with 32 saves.

“Usually that is conjunction with the players in front of him competing at a level defensively where they get into an understanding of what is going to happen in their own end, where the bodies are going to be, where the shots are coming from.”

Yes, Bobrovsky will be the first to say he is not doing all of this alone.

Florida fans have seen what a porous defense can do to a goalie regardless of their skill set.

These days, they are seeing what a strong defensive unit can do to help out their goalie — and Bobrovsky is most appreciative of the effort.

“My teammates did a great job with all of the little details: Blocked shots, good sticks, gaps,” Bobrovsky said. “It is definitely a good result for us and a good team effort. We’re happy with the win but the next game is going to be a big game. They have great players, a great team and this is going to be a fight.”

On Monday night, Carolina pulled Andersen with just over three minutes remaining in the game.

Panthers Optimistic Sasha Barkov Could Return for Game 4

Despite having a 6-on-5 advantage, Bobrovsky only faced one shot on goal.

The Panthers got three of their 23 blocked shots during that span and forced a pair of turnovers.

Carolina was throwing everything it had at the Panthers and nothing got through.

”They did a good job on us 6-on-5 but they only had two shots on us that period,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said, noting the Panthers again went into prevent mode in the third.

“I like how we’re are playing, we just have to break the ice to have a chance. Give credit, they are doing a good job of hunkering down when they have to.”

Florida’s defensive play has been solid this round although Bobrovsky is a huge factor in that.

Yet on Monday night, the Panthers clamped down and did not let the Hurricanes get loose on many occasions.

The Hurricanes did carry time of possession, but only got off 12 high danger chances through the entirety of the game.

For the Panthers to finish off the Hurricanes and continue their march toward the Stanley Cup, their defense is going to have to continue to help Bobrovsky out.

He is doing the heavy lifting, sure, but he is not doing it all by himself.

FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
CAROLINA HURRICANES (MET1) AT PANTHERS (WC2) 
GAME 4 (Panthers Lead 3-0)

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