Many have noticed that the play of Florida Panthers newly signed goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky hasn’t started his tenure the way everyone had hoped. The 31-year-old, who signed a seven-year, $70MM contract this summer, has put up very pedestrian numbers for a player the Panthers believe to be a franchise goaltender. In 35 games with Florida this year, Bobrovsky has posted a 3.22 GAA and a .898 save percentage — far from his 2.58 GAA and .913 save percentage with Columbus last season.
However, The Athletic’s Alison Lukan (subscription required) breaks down the play of the netminder and notes there are several reasons for Bobrovsky’s early struggles beside just the fact that he often struggles early in the year as well as the fact that he’s already 31 years old. However, the scribe believes that the biggest difference is that he is still adjusting to life without Columbus’ top defense. The Florida Panthers defense has increased Bobrovsky’s workload to levels he isn’t used to, which has forced the goaltender to change the way he plays. Between Bobrovsky making adjustments and the eventual hope that coach Joel Quenneville will re-design the defense into something more impressive down the road, the hope is that the goaltender should bounce back.
- In a mailbag piece, the Detroit Free Press’ Helene St. James suggests that one of the biggest reasons the team has not recalled top prospects Michael Rasmussen and Mortiz Seider to aid the struggling franchise, is the success that the AHL team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, is having. The team remains poised for a playoff run, but with Seider back from the World Junior Championships and Rasmussen finally back from a two-month long back injury, the team has a chance to make a run, which could be good for both their long-term development. Rasmussen, in particular, is training to return to the center position before returning full-time to the NHL.
- Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy revealed that defenseman Connor Clifton is expected to be out until at least February, according to Matt Kalman of WEEI.com. Clifton has been out with an upper-body injury since Dec. 29 and has served the team as a third-pairing defenseman. While the 24-year-old doesn’t provide much offense (two goals in 30 games), Clifton has provided a physical presence with 85 hits already this season.
- The Tampa Bay Lightning have always considered forward prospect Alexander Volkov as a mystery, who has the talent to be a top-six forward, but has struggled with consistency throughout his career. The team hoped to change that when they brought up Volkov on two separate occasions, but after assigning him to Syracuse on Friday, the 22-year-old responded with a hat trick, which The Athletic’s Joe Smith (subscription required) feels might be a sign that the forward is starting to come around.