Sergei Bobrovsky joins "Miami Mic'd Up" with Jeremy Taché
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — One of the biggest questions for the Florida Panthers this season is what will their netminder playing time split look like. Two award-winning goalies are projected to vie for most of the starts in 2021-22: Sergei Bobrovsky, the Vezina Trophy winner in 2013 and 2017, and Spencer Knight, the Hockey East Player of the Year in 2021.
It’s never a bad thing to have depth in net, especially with the return to a rigorous 82-game regular season. Look no further for the importance of depth in net than the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions Tampa Bay Lightning, who had Curtis McElhinney step in for a combined 30 starts over the past two seasons.
Coming into his 12th year in the league, Sergei Bobrovsky has started 524 NHL games. Last season, Bobrovksy went 19-8-2. Despite splitting time with Knight toward the very end of last season, Bobrovsky has remained committed to being a great teammate and helping others grow when he can.
"Throughout my career, I've always had a good relationship with goalies,” Bobrovsky said. “And again, we're here to support the team and do our best to give the best result. No matter who plays, we going to support and learn from each other.”
Florida’s 2019 first-round draft pick (13th overall), Knight took the hockey world by storm last season. Knight, still a rookie coming into 2021-22, was 19 years old when he joined the Panthers after two years at Boston College. The idea in the organization was to get him a feel for the NHL with a playoff positions secured.
But through his play (winning all four of his regular season games), Knight changed that mindset. The speed at which he was able to adapt from the NCAA to NHL was impressive. Knight became the youngest goalie in NHL history to record a win in his playoff debut in the Panthers’ Game 5 victory over the Lightning.
It’s the age-old story of the lauded veteran and the rising star. The twist being that nothing is given, and both will have to continue to prove themselves through their play to their three-time Stanley Cup winning coach Joel Quenneville. Panthers teammates are thrilled to have to Bobrovsky and Knight to go up against in practice and go into battle with once the season starts.
"I can confirm he's that good,” forward Anthony Duclair said of Knight. “He's that good. And I can tell in practice, from just doing breakaways at the end of practice, I know, he's had my number."
Hockey fans know one of the critical ingredients to making a deep run in the postseason is having a hot goaltender.
The most exciting time in Panthers’ franchise history was powered by the outstanding play of John Vanbiesbrouck, who led the Cats to the Stanley Cup Final in the 1995-96 season. And for a Florida team with sights set on a deep postseason run, Bobrovsky and Knight catching fire would pave the way for more of that excitement.