Early on in Florida Panthers training camp, sergei Bobrovsky was asked about the way his previous season ended.
After starting Florida’s playoff series against the Lightning, he watched Chris Driedger play Game 2.
Bobrovsky came off the bench to help salvage a win for the Panthers in Game 3 only to get pulled in the second period of Game 4 and not return for the remainder of the series.
But the insult may not have been not in playing — but that the Panthers did not even have him dress for Games 5 and 6 as rookie Spencer Knight took over and Driedger backed up.
“It is what it is. I definitely wasn’t happy with that,” Bobrovsky said that day. “There is management and coaches and they decided that. That’s their decision but I leave it at that.
“Of course I’m not happy but I don’t want to think about it. This is a new season and a new opportunity. I have to prepare myself to play my best hockey.”
Through the first two games of the 2021-22 season, Bobrovsky has looked pretty darned good.
While he gave up four goals in the opener against the Penguins, three of those goals either went off a teammate or went in while he was down on the ice and had no chance at stopping the shot.
Saturday, he gave up one goal as the Panthers rolled to a 5-1 win over the Islanders.
“He has been incredible,” said Sam Bennett, who got a hat trick in the win. “He is making game-changing stops. All we can ask is for him to be steady back there. He’s done a heck of a job. We have all the faith in Bob. It’s great to see.”
Said Bobrovsky: “I feel good, felt comfortable against Pittsburgh and Tampa (in the preseason) and today. Guys performed for us, Sam Bennett stepped up with a huge game. It’s nice to have a good start and we’ll keep going.”
After the game, Bobrovsky again talked about how he deleted his Instagram account following the end of last season.
Being off social media, Bobrovsky said, allowed him to seperate himself from hockey and enjoy the little — and big — things in life.
He and his wife Olga recently welcomed their first child and the two spen the offseason traveling and enjoying new pursuits such as museums, learning to play guitar and going to concerts.
Bring up Bobrovsky’s first two seasons with the Panthers and get that question batted right back.
Bobrovsky says he is living in the now.
“I don’t want to think about what happened in the past and that’s my mindset right now,” Bobrovsky said. “I don’t want to think about what happened before, or what’s going to happen later. I’m just here, I’m here and enjoying being here.”
As for his critics?
”I don’t really hear those voices,” Bobrovsky said. “I have the baby now, have a family. It’s all about the process. I love playing hockey. I have been honest with my performances, have been all-in on the practices. … It’s a process and I am here and I am happy to be here. I’m happy to get the two points (Saturday) and look forward to the next games.”
When it comes to two uneven seasons in Florida, Joel Quenneville said Bobrovsky and goalie coach Robb Tallas looked at what went wrong and right and set out to make some improvements technical, mental and even to his equipment.
“He has had a good approach. I thought that the summer was good for him,’’ Quenneville said. “He looks more comfortable, more patient in the net. He has had two great games for us and it has been a great start to the season.”
Bobrovsky also says he is changing his approach to the game, trying to have a little more fun.
That would, theoretically, make him a little looser on the ice.
”I delete the Instagram so I am not on social media and I have completely blocked myself out,” Bobrovsky said. “I’m here at the rink completely and fully. Outside the rink, I am not playing hockey.”
Florida will play its third game of the season Tuesday in Tampa and it’s not known whether rookie Spencer Knight will get his first start of the season or the Panthers go back to Bobrovsky.
If the Panthers go to Knight, it probably has more to do with a set, early-season schedule than anything else.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
FLORIDA PANTHERS AT TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
- WHEN: Tuesday, 7 p.m.
- WHERE: Amalie Arena, Tampa
- TICKETS: CLICK HERE
- TV/STREAMING: Bally Sports Florida
- RADIO: 560-AM
- 2021 regular season series: Florida won 5-3