April 17, 2011

Boosh over Bob.

Three months ago, I asked the eternal question: Boosh or Bob?

And now, roughly 24 hours before Game 3 of the Flyers/Sabres series, I'm asking it again. Only this time, there's a whole lot more at stake.

In my opinion, it's time to turn to Brian Boucher. Yes, as Phil Sheridan pointed out today, yanking Sergei Bobrovsky may very well destroy his confidence. And yes, Bob is (probably) the future in goal for the Flyers.

But this can't be about hurt feelings; it shouldn't even be about Bobrovsky's development as an NHL goalie. It's about winning the Stanley Cup, and right now, Boucher gives them a better chance to do so.

If Bob had coasted through this series, even he'd been merely serviceable, it would have been a no-brainer. He'd get his feet wet; the Flyers move on. Everybody wins. You still have Boucher waiting in the wings in case of a meltdown, but no one's whispering his name.

But Bob's been tested. And he failed. Three goals on seven shots won't ever cut it; the Flyers are lucky to have won. And if Bob can't shut down the Sabres, what's he going to do versus the Capitals and Lightning, teams with real firepower?

It's not panicking if you turn to Boucher; it's being smart. He's playoff-tested, he's been there before. In all honesty, he probably should have been starting in the first place. I understand that you have to take the training wheels off Bob at some point, but Peter Laviolette has been flip-flopping goalies all year. There's obviously something about Bob that he's not totally comfortable with, and if that's at all the case, Boucher needs to be your guy.

Plus, if benching Bob really does mean blowing up his confidence, there's always Michael Leighton. Would it be absurd to throw Leighton, after being banished to Adirondack, back into the fire? A little, but it's not like he was sitting on his ass up there. He was winning hockey games, albeit in the minor leagues. Plus, and everybody all together now, "he's been there before." I'm not a big believer of most sports clich├ęs, but that's one I do buy. The Stanley Cup playoffs are a whole different ballgame.

I think Sergei Bobrovsky will have a long, successful career as an NHL goaltender, and I hope it's in Philadelphia. But it's been "Stanley Cup or bust" since February, and there's officially no time left to screw around with a shaky goalie.

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