Virtually no one, at least outside the state of Ohio, expected the Columbus Blue Jackets to come up with the season that they had in 2013. Granted, it was a shortened year and they still didn’t make the playoffs, but the Jackets went from league laughingstock, to up-and-coming club.
The prime reason for that was the play of Sergei Bobrovsky. In his first season as a starter, having been acquired in the previous summer, the Russian netminder broke into the ranks of the league’s elite, with a season that culminated in him winning the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goaltender.
Bobrovsky’s final numbers on the season included a 2.00 goals against average and a save percentage of .932, including four shutouts, in 37 starts. Those numbers were simply absurd, as the Blue Jackets actually turned in a pretty fine defensive season.
Heading into the 2013-14 season, though, the Blue Jackets and Bobrovsky are facing something that they’re all relatively unfamiliar with: expectations. Bobrovsky has a fresh new contract, albeit a bridge deal, heading into the new year. Trying to earn a potential extension next summer, he’s going to be under the microscope.
Bobrovsky broke onto the scene with that one big year. The fact that it was only one, and his experience was quite limited prior to taking over as the starter in Columbus, means that the Jackets were smart in signing him to that bridge deal, just to be on the safe side.
What that means for Bobrovsky is that rather than fly under the radar like he and the Blue Jackets did last year, he’s going to be under the microscope. He’s considered an elite goaltender now. He’s going to have to face the expectations that come along with such a title. Will he be able to rise to them, or will he prove that his 2013 season was something of a fluke? That’s a storyline to watch heading into 2013-14.