Sergei Bobrovsky (Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky isn’t enjoying the best stretch of play of his career. Through four games, Bobrovsky has a 5.06 GAA and .832 SP and he allowed six goals on 27 shots Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators. The Blue Jackets netminder said he has ‘zero confidence’ in his ability right now.
The 2015-16 campaign hasn’t been kind to Sergei Bobrovsky. Through four games, the Columbus Blue Jackets netminder is still looking for his first win, he has a 5.05 goals-against average and a .830 save percentage. There’s no way to slice it other than to say Bobrovsky’s been bad through four games.
But you don’t have to tell Bobrovsky that, especially following Wednesday’s loss. After the Blue Jackets took a 3-2 lead less than five minutes into the second period, Bobrovsky, 27, proceeded to allow four goals on the next 12 shots he faced. What once looked like it could have potentially been Columbus’ first victory of the season turned into a 7-3 defeat.
Post-game, Bobrovsky, the 2012-13 Vezina Trophy winner, said he’s shaken by his performances this season.
“I have zero confidence right now,” Bobrovsky told The Columbus Dispatch’s Shawn Mitchell. “It’s tough to analyze right now what’s going on. It’s just disappointing, the last four games. We have to be better.”
“I think I have to build that confidence in myself and my ability,” Bobrovsky added. “We have to win the next one. We have to keep working.”
Bobrovsky’s play is especially jarring because the Blue Jackets had finished so strong in the 2014-15 campaign. Columbus won 16 of their final 20 games and made a legitimate — albeit late — push for the post-season to close out the previous year. With the off-season acquisition of Brandon Saad, a healthy lineup, a confident captain Nick Foligno and a stable of youthful talent, the expectations were high for the Blue Jackets and they’ve instead stumbled out of the blocks.
The four straight losses could happen to anyone to begin the year — Los Angeles has lost three straight, Pittsburgh hasn’t won a game in three tries and Anaheim is still searching for win No. 1 — but it’s the way Columbus has lost games that could be indicative of a larger problem.
In their first game of the season, the Blue Jackets blew a 2-1 lead by allowing the New York Rangers to score three goals in 77 seconds with less than three minutes left in the game. The next night, in what should have been a bounce back, show-me performance from Columbus, the Rangers jumped out to a 5-0 lead and held on for a 5-2 win. Then came a loss to 2014-15’s basement-dwelling Buffalo Sabres and now Wednesday’s embarrassing loss to the Senators.
Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen has already called out his squad, telling The Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline that his club’s play was “off the rails.”
“We’re all accountable, from front office to coaches to players,” Kekalainen told Portzline. “Todd Richards is a good coach. The guys in the room have to play better.
“There aren’t a lot of guys in that group that have played up to their expectations, right? We have many guys playing below expectations, below the bar. Well, it’s hard to be good as a team when you’re not playing well as individuals.”
It’s not as if Kekalainen hasn’t been able to invest in creating the best roster possible, either. Unlike other clubs who have internal budgets that restrict them from signing top talent, the Blue Jackets have less than $3.5-million in cap space and have invested significant money at every position. That includes in goal, where Bobrovsky earns an annual salary of $7.425 million — a contract which kicked in this season.
Columbus will get their next shot at picking up a victory when they roll into Air Canada Center Friday night to take on the winless Toronto Maple Leafs, but if they drop that contest, it could be some time before the Blue Jackets are celebrating win No. 1. After Toronto, Columbus draws three 2014-15 playoff clubs: the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks, New York Islanders and Minnesota Wild. If the winless streak nears 10, changes could be coming in Columbus.