The Columbus Blue Jackets might still be in last place in the Central Division just past the halfway point of the 2013 season, but they have won five straight games and are on the rise, thanks in large part to the phenomenal play of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. Four of the five wins have come in overtime or shootouts, where goaltending can make all of the difference. The other win came against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, and was the first shutout of Bobrovsky’s career. The Blue Jackets now sit just four points out of playoff contention thanks to Bobrovsky establishing himself as the team’s clear-cut number one option in net. Steve Mason‘s continued struggles have opened the door for Bobrovsky, and the young Russian continues to make the most of his opportunity.
Back-to-back wins over the Red Wings are the current exclamation point on the Blue Jackets’ seven-game point streak, and featured two of Bobrovsky’s best performances of the season. He turned aside all 30 shots he faced on Saturday, and made 21 saves on Sunday before stoning Damien Brunner and Henrik Zetterberg in the shootout. The Blue Jackets finished their season series with Detroit with a 4-0-1 record. On Thursday, Bobrovsky recorded 34 saves to lead Columbus past the Vancouver Canucks. Bobrovsky was named first star of the week for his efforts in the last four games, which included a 4-0 record, 0.77 goals against average and .972 save percentage. He has now improved his season record to 8-6-3 and lowered his goals against average to 2.27. The wins over the division rival Red Wings could be incredibly important later in the season if the two teams end up in a close race for a playoff spot.