The Return of the Bob

I will admit, I have been more critical of Bobrovsky than anyone else on the Panthers. Being a goalie, I feel like it is my duty to give fair and accurate information, analysis, and not be jealous that these guys are playing my position at the highest level.

The point I am trying to make is I was very impressed with Bob in Thursday night’s 5-4 OT win. Now you might ask, “big fella, were those $6 beers going down too smoothly? Bob gave up 4 goals, what is impressive with that?” And I would like to address this as follows.

First and foremost, Panthers and FLA Live Arena, it is Thirsty Thursday. What are you doing? While I appreciate the beer discount, $5 is way better than $6 for a Coors Light. Is that extra dollar going to make you or break you? $5 beers just go down smoother and 5 is just a better increment. It just feels weird saying a $6 beer. Please fix this immediately!

Now that the important stuff is over, let’s discuss Bobrovsky in net. Bob looked absolutely stellar and made a ton of critical saves. Sure, he gave up 4 goals; however, let’s really take a look at them. Geuntzel is on a 2-on-1 and absolutely buries it right under the crossbar and over Bob’s blocker. As a goalie, in a 2-on-1 situation, you cannot challenge and have to respect the pass. Plus it was a beauty of a shot. I do not blame Bob for that goal nor would I consider it a weak one.

The second goal came from Jeff Carter, his 400th career goal, and was actually tipped in by Aaron Ekblad. Not sure what Ekblad was doing there, but I guess he technically got a hat trick with that one. Either way, Ekblad tips it up and over Bob’s glove like a total moron. Again, I do not blame Bob, but what the hell was Ekblad thinking?

Goal #3 was another one scored against Weegar and Ekblad. Bob actually made an incredible sliding save to stop the one-timer. Then while he is down from making the save, Weegar just stands in front of the net, flat footed and watches Letang bounce it off his shin pads and in to the net. Amazing heads up play by Letang after getting robbed by Bob. Complete lack of defensive position and awareness by Weegar. Again, poor defense and I do not blame Bob at all.

The 4th goal was an absolute scramble and Bobrovsky made 2-3 stellar saves. Then instead of clearing the puck, the Panthers just start shoving the Pens players on top and into Bob. During this scramble, the puck slips in. Again, a complete and total lack of defensive zone awareness by the Cats and I do not blame Bob. He made the first, the second, and the third save.

More importantly, and something I have not seen from him during his time in Florida, he was making the timely saves for the Panthers. There was a point with about 90 seconds left in the 3rd period where he made a beautiful sliding save on a one timer that was labeled for the back of the net. Then right before the Cats won it in OT, he made a beautiful breakaway save against Rodrigues which ended up turning around and setting up the GWG.

While I get that this is a team sport, and last night’s 4 goals against and .915 SV% aren’t super impressive; those number stem more from the defensive lapses than poor play by Bobrovksy. If you just take away Weegar and Ekblad scoring on their own goals, it is a 4-2 game.

Furthermore, how are the Cats giving up 47 shots to a Penguins team that does not have Crosby or Malkin? They looked awful in their defensive zone and I believe it stems from their assistant captain, Aaron Ekblad.

Here we go Panthers fans, get ready to wad up your panties, because I am about to go in on your “Norris Caliber” d-man.

Did Ekblad have 2 goals last night? No, technically he had 3; however, 1 was scored on his own damn net! On his second goal, he was down in the left corner playing like a winger.  Sure, it was a beautiful shot and the Panthers needed a goal, but he has to be smarter defensively.

On top of that, it is like he brings Weegar down to his level on defense. Last season, when Ekblad got hurt, Weegar looked like a true #1 d-man in the league. Last night he looked like Ekblad2.0. He had a goal on his own net, much like Ekblad. Then in OT he got caught in no-man’s land and gave up the long stretch pass to Rodrigues which Bob bailed him out on.

All offseason I was worried about the Panthers goaltending and saying that Bob needs to be better or Knight needs to step up. Watching last night’s game, it is the defensive game from the Florida Panthers that is worrisome.

This leads me to say, I officially owe Shawn Perry, @88STP on Twitter, an apology. He was right when he questioned the Panther’s defense. I disagreed with him and may have insinuated that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. Shawn, I owe you a beer.

The team seemed out of place and clueless on their d-zone responsibilities. Too many times guys were left uncovered. The Penguins moved the puck well, but it would have been a totally different game had they had Crosby and/or Malkin in the lineup.

Coach Q is going to need the guys to buy in and play a two-way game. They can get away with the run and gun style of play against weaker teams; however, the Islanders would have a field day if the Cats try to play like that against them tonight.

Either way, last night was a good win for the Panthers and hopefully an omen of things to come. Bobrovsky looked fantastic and I think he definitely passed the eye test even though the stats were not amazing. Let’s go Cats!

PS: did you hear that the Tampa Bay Lightning low key hate kids? I even heard that they beat puppies. #FTBL

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