Philadelphia Flyers: Why Sergei Bobrovsky Must Start in Game 6
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They say that history repeats itself. That is a lesson that the 2011 Flyers are learning all too well.
That old Flyers Achilles' heel, shaky goaltending, has reared its ugly head once again in the team's first-round series against the Buffalo Sabres.
Sergei Bobrovsky was pulled in game two, which the Flyers barely came back to win. He was replaced by former Flyer and career journeyman Brian Boucher, who played brilliantly in games three and four--and then was yanked after allowing three soft goals in game five.
Boucher was in turn replaced by last year's playoff darling, Michael Leighton, who allowed a juicy overtime rebound that the Sabres banged home for a 3-2 series lead.
And so the team comes full circle. Bobrovsky has to be the choice for game six.
Critics will point to his inexperience, his poor showing in game two, and his pedestrian puck-handling abilities. None of that matters.
What matters is that the Flyers know what they've got in Boucher and Leighton, and neither goalie is carrying the team to a Cup.
Boucher is as streaky as they come. When he's on, he's on, and he owns the all-time record for longest shutout streak.
But in crunch time, there's no guarantee he doesn't fold. Flyers fans who remember the 2001 Eastern Conference finals against the Devils know that fact all too well.
Who should start game six for the Flyers?
Leighton, meanwhile, had his shot last year. Even average goaltending would have won Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Blackhawks. The awful overtime clincher for the Hawks, meanwhile, is indelibly recorded in Flyers history.
He wasn't close to being Sabres goalie Ryan Miller's equal in Friday's contest, failing to corral a huge overtime rebound after Miller had repeatedly stoned the Flyers in close at the other end.
Bobrovsky, then, is the great unknown. Over his rookie season, he played brilliantly at times, and not so brilliantly at others.
He sometimes responded well coming off a bad loss, sometimes not so well.
But ultimately, the Flyers know what they have in Leighton and Boucher. And what they have is not good enough. Bobrovsky might be.
As a final thought, consider this: the goaltenders to win the Stanley Cup since the lockout are Cam Ward, Jean-Sebastian Giguere, Chris Osgood, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Antti Niemi.
The Flyers don't have an Osgood or a Fleury. But could Bobrovsky be their Ward, Giguere, or Niemi?
There's only one way to find out. He should get his chance in game six.
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