Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky was awarded an NHL three stars award for the second straight week yesterday, becoming the first player in Blue Jackets history to be win back-to-back honors from the league.
Bobrovsky, the league’s No. 1 star for the previous week, was named the No. 3 star after going 1-0-2 with a 0.62 goals-against average, .982 save percentage and recording his second career shutout last week, helping the surging but goal-starved Blue Jackets extend their franchise-record point streak to 10 games.
Coach Todd Richards said the league’s top two stars — St. Louis right winger Chris Stewart and Ottawa center Kyle Turris — must have been amazing to best Bobrovsky.
“That’s surprising he’s third star, based on what I saw,” Richards said. “I don’t get a chance to see everyone, so obviously the other guys must have played some tremendous hockey.”
Bobrovsky saved 115 of 117 shots in his past three starts. He was informed of his league honor a few minutes after he came off the ice at the conclusion of practice yesterday.
“I didn’t know that,” Bobrovsky said. “Of course, I’m really glad. But for me, most important is to make the playoffs. That’s our goal. I will focus on that.”
Bobrovsky’s teammates are running out of superlatives to describe the play of their goalie, who is expected to make a seventh straight start tonight against the Nashville Predators in Nationwide Arena. Bobrovsky, 24, is 7-1-3 with a 1.34 goals-against average and .955 save percentage in his past 11 games.Overall, he is 9-6-5 (2.00/.955), and his goals-against average ranks second in the NHL behind Craig Anderson of Ottawa.
“When we’re winning games without scoring a goal, well, it has a lot to do with goaltending,” right winger Jared Boll said, referring to Bobrovsky’s 39-save performance in a 1-0 shootout win over Phoenix on Saturday.“He’s been unbelievable for us.”
Steve Mason split starts with Bobrovsky through the first month of the season but has been relegated to the bench during Bobrovsky’s hot streak. But even Mason said he has been able to enjoy the ride.
“It’s been fun to watch, from my standpoint, what he’s been able to do for the last 10 games or so,” Mason said. “That’s a stretch of play that you really can’t put into words. He has made all the saves that you expect him to make and made the saves that you don’t expect him to make. That’s nice to see.”
That hasn’t kept Mason from stewing — not over Bobrovsky’s ascension to the No. 1 spot, but rather his performance in his last start. Mason allowed three goals on eight shots and was replaced by Bobrovsky in a 4-3 shootout win over Edmonton on March 5. In Mason’s previous start, he saved 26 of 27 shots in a 1-0 loss at Chicago on Feb. 24.
“The only difficult part about it is that I’ve been sitting on a loss for two weeks,” Mason said. “But (goalie coach) Ian Clark has been driving it home, telling me up until that (Edmonton) game I had been playing really well.
“I had two strong games against Chicago and had some decent numbers prior to that game. That’s kind of the silver lining, but at the same time, it’s tough to sit on a loss for that long.”
Mason might not sit much longer. The Jackets will close a five-game homestand on Friday against Calgary before embarking on a four-game trip that includes three stops in western Canada.
“We’re going to have to use Steve,” Richards said.