A year to the day after he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, Sergei Bobrovsky will get a chance to keep his first season going for at least one more game.
Coach Peter Laviolette announced he was giving the Russian rookie the start against the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the teams' Eastern Conference Semifinal series (8 p.m. ET, VERSUS [JIP], CBC, RDS). The Flyers, trailing 3-0 to the Bruins for the second straight year, need a win to force a Game 5 in Philadelphia on Sunday.
"Bob (Bobrovsky) will start in net for us tonight," Laviolette said in making the announcement. "Brian (Boucher) came in and played really well for us and came in and pinch hit for Bob early on and played well for us. But we found ourselves down by three here and Bob's come off the bench for us and looked good. So he'll get back in there tonight."
It will be Bobrovsky's first start since Game 2 of the first round against the Buffalo Sabres. After a strong effort in losing Game 1, Bobrovsky was removed after allowing three goals on seven shots in the first 12:30 of Game 2. Laviolette made Bobrovsky a healthy scratch until Game 7, when he returned as Brian Boucher's backup.
Despite being the backup in this series, Bobrovsky has seen action in all three games. He allowed two goals on 10 shots after replacing Boucher with 3:23 left in the second period of a 7-3 loss in Game 1, and he stopped seven of eight shots over the final 24:30 of Game 3 after replacing Boucher, who had allowed the first four goals in a 5-1 loss.
Bobrovsky also stopped all six shots he faced while playing the final 8:59 of the second period of Game 2 when Boucher suffered a hand injury. Boucher returned to start the third period and was in net when David Krejci scored in overtime.
Laviolette gave a clue to his decision Thursday, when he had Bobrovsky working in one net at practice, while Boucher and No. 3 goalie Johan Backlund rotated in the other goal.
It's been a rapid ascent for the undrafted free agent, whose signing the Flyers announced May 6, 2010, the day before Game 4 of last year's conference semifinal series against the Bruins, when the Flyers also were staring a 3-0 series deficit.
This won't be the first high-pressure situation Bobrovsky has been dropped into. He was the Flyers' surprise starter opening night in Pittsburgh, and made 29 saves as the Flyers won 3-2 to ruin the Penguins' first game at Consol Energy Center. He had a six-game win streak early in the season and started 11-2-1. He finished the season second among rookie goalies with 28 wins, and fifth with a 2.59 goals-against average and .913 save percentage. Only Chicago's Corey Crawford started and played more games than Bobrovsky's 52 and 54, respectively.
His performance this season certainly earned him the trust of his veteran teammates.
"I thought he looked great in relief in the Boston series," Flyers center Danny Briere said Thursday. "Sometimes a lot of it has to do with how you feel against a certain team for goalies. Maybe he can come in and feel good and see the puck well against the Bruins.
"I don't know if he's playing or not (Friday), but if he is, I'd feel very comfortable."
Staff Writer Mike G. Morreale contributed to this report.