Lazerus: Sergei Bobrovsky steals another one, continues to rewrite his career

RALEIGH, N.C. — Sergei Bobrovsky is having fun. Honest.

The Florida Panthers goaltender might look like he just came back from a trip to the post office, and he might sound like he’s talking about winning a neutral-site preseason game in front of a few hundred curious onlookers, and it might seem like he’ll doze off at any moment, but really, this is everything he’s ever wanted.

This atmosphere. This pressure. This level of mind-bending success. One hundred saves in two games.

“I’m enjoying this,” he said in the aftermath of the Panthers’ 2-1 overtime victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final, which gave them a 2-0 series lead over the Hurricanes heading back to South Florida. “I’m enjoying playing this hockey, this atmosphere. The building here is crazy and it’s so loud and it’s so fun to play. With how hard the guys work, it’s a privilege to be in net at the time.”

It was almost tough to buy that first part, about the fun and the excitement and the enjoyment. Surely he is, but the guy is just so calm, so chill, so mellow, so seemingly over all this. His unflappable demeanor is one of the things that makes him so good in net, but in the cauldron of tension and emotion that is the Stanley Cup playoffs, it’s almost unnerving. But that last part, the “privilege” part, there’s no denying that. Because he won’t stop talking about it.

Before Game 1: “It’s great to be here.”

After Game 1: “I’m really fortunate to be in this playoff. I’m happy to be here, very happy to be part of this team.”

After Game 2: “I’m fortunate to be here and happy to play hockey, playoff hockey.”

Also after Game 2: “I’m just happy to be in net at this time.”

Also after Game 2: “I’m just thankful for this spot.”

Sources close to Bobrovsky suggest he’s happy to be here. More on this story as it develops.

But hey, why shouldn’t he be? This is a man who’s lost that net multiple times in recent seasons. To Spencer Knight. To Chris Driedger. To Alex Lyon. Tough pills to swallow for a man with two Vezina trophies, tough calls to make for a team paying Bobrovsky $10 million a year. How many times has Bobrovsky been written off? How many times has his contract been ridiculed? How many times have the Panthers been laughed at?

“It’s been happening lots of things over the course of my career,” Bobrovsky said.

Well, nobody’s laughing anymore. Not after this heater to end all heaters. At 34 years old, Bobrovsky is playing as well as he ever has, and on the game’s biggest stage. He stepped in for an overmatched Lyon and beat the mighty Bruins three straight times to win the first-round series in seven games. He basically ended the high-octane Maple Leafs as we know them, giving up just 10 goals in five games and sending them tailspinning into an offseason reckoning. And against a Carolina team that the analytics say should have won the first two games of the series by a combined score…

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Read More: Lazerus: Sergei Bobrovsky steals another one, continues to rewrite his career 2023-05-21 08:25:20

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