When the Blue Jackets acquired Sergei Bobrovsky from the Philadelphia Flyers, it was hard to see the trade as anything but a reclamation project. But it did not take long for “Bob” to prove to the world just how good he was.
#2 and 1: Bob’s Vezina Seasons
In his first season in Columbus, Sergei Bobrovsky out-dueled Steve Mason, and by the middle of the lockout-shortened season, the crease was his. He led the team on an unexpected playoff push that unfortunately came up just short, with the team missing the postseason due to a Minnesota Wild win on the final day of the regular season.
But, Bobrovsky posted what still stand to be career-best numbers: a sparkling .932 save percentage, and a 2.00 goals against average. He won 21 of his 37 starts for the Jackets that season, allowing just 74 goals in 38 appearances (one in relief), and adding four shutouts. Even though it came in a shortened season, this is easily one of the best goaltending campaigns by a CBJ netminder.
In fact, that 2012-13 season might only be eclipsed by his second Vezina run in 2016-17. He put up eerily similar numbers – a .931 save percentage and 2.06 goals against average – but, this time, he did so over the course of a full season. He started and played in 63 games, winning a franchise record 41; helping propel the team to a franchise-best 108 point season – records that still stand very tall.
Bob added 7 shutouts that year, and after missing a lot of time due to injury in the three years between Vezina Trophies; firmly established himself as an elite NHL goaltender. The team’s record is even more remarkable when you look at their leading scorers that season: Cam Atkinson (62 points), Alex Wennberg (59), Brandon Saad (53), Nick Foligno (51), Sam Gagner (50), and Brandon Dubinsky (41) were the only forwards to exceed 40 points that season. The defense was strong, and Bob was absolutely elite.
Unfortunately for the Jackets, they ran into that pesky Western Pennsylvania team that has given them so many fits over the years – in the first round, no less. The quick playoff exit spoiled a special year for Bobrovsky and the Jackets, but still, it’s one that we should remember fondly because it really was a special season.
Seeing Bob make a magical run with the Florida Panthers this year stings because he was never able to do that in Columbus. That wasn’t all on him though; look at the teams the Jackets ran into in the first rounds of the playoffs. All of those teams were special, while the Jackets pretty much just scratched and clawed into things with hard work. Eventually, talent just wins. We should remember Sergei Bobrovsky not for his playoff failures; but for being one of the best Blue Jackets of all-time.