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“Goalie Bob” was a hero in Columbus.
Especially last season, when he backstopped the Blue Jackets to a shocking, first-round playoff sweep of the Presidents’ Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning.
How could they let him bolt via free agency?
Whatever were they going to do without him?
Well, as it turns out, life goes on for the Jackets without their former star stopper, Sergei Bobrovsky. Quite nicely, in fact.
That’s because GM Jarmo Kekalainen had a pretty good Plan B in place when he rejected any temptation to trade Bobrovsky – knowing he wouldn’t be able to keep him from going to Florida in the summer but also knowing he needed him in order to give his team its best chance in the spring of 2019.
When the Jackets lost a second round series to the Bruins in six games, people thought their window of opportunity had closed.
But while the Panthers are on the hook to give Bobrovsky $10 million per year for the next six, Kekalainen has Joonas Korpisalo at a $2.8 million cap hit for the next two seasons, and his ’tending partner, Elvis Merzlikins at a $4 million hit over the same period.
And after shutting out the Toronto Maple Leafs in both the opening and closing game of their best-of-five play-in series last week, and then setting a NHL record for most number of saves (85) in an incredible 5OT loss to the Lightning on Tuesday, Korpisalo is looking like the best bargain ever.
He was un-freaking-believable against Tampa. The way he’s playing, “Goalie Korpi” just might take the Blue Jackets further than they’ve ever gone before.
SMASHING RECORDS: How cool was it for Hockey Night in Canada to have Kelly Hrudey on its panel Tuesday. It was Hrudey that held the record of 73 saves, from the Easter Epic of 1987, that Korpisalo broke.
“I’m loving it,” Hrudey said after the fourth OT period. “What a great event. What a great game. I’m hoping Korpisalo breaks the 100-shot mark. I’m hoping (the game) goes so long (Tampa’s Andrei) Vasilevskiy breaks my record as well.” …. Seth Jones left people wondering if he’s part machine, not just with his record amount of ice time, but that he didn’t appear to be tiring in the least. The way these play-ins and playoffs are going, Jones might be regarded as the best defenceman in the league by the time they’re over … The Lighting had 187 shot attempts at the Columbus net. That’s a week’s worth for teams during the season.
STOPS AND STARTS: Generally I kinda like NBC’s grumpy Mike Milbury, but when he suggested the league “come up with a way” to end the Blue Jackets-Lightning game after two overtime periods, whether it be 3-on-3 or a shootout — and that had it started at 7:30 or 8 p.m. rather than 3 p.m. “people would be turning off their sets” — he sounded like an old, tired man who doesn’t like his job. That was an outstanding to watch, easily the best game of the summer so far, and this is the NHL playoffs — you can’t start changing the rules, Mike … Seriously, they had postpone the Bruins-Hurricanes game, which was to be played at 8 p.m. Tuesday, until Wednesday at 11 a.m. Like who would imagine that happening and what does it to the preparation of players on those teams? … Victor Hedman deserved at least a penalty for hauling down Cam Atkinson on a partial breakaway shortly before Brayden Point’s winning goal. Not a penalty shot, but definitely a penalty … Good one from the scoreboard operator at Scotiabank Arena during a commercial break in the marathon game. “It’s time for the seventh hour stretch.” … Painful to look at boards sign in Edmonton during the Dallas-Calgary game was the one advertising diet Dr. Pepper. In Ontario, it’s as difficult to find as Lite Beer from Miller in regular cans …
BETWEEN THE DOTS : Watch for a shakeup of significant proportions in Pittsburgh after No. 5 seed Penguins were knocked off by the 12th seeded Habs during the play-ins. GM Jim Rutherford said during a video call Tuesday that he plans to move forward with the core— which could mean only Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang – but everybody else, including the coaching staff, should be nervous. “We don’t have the same drive and determination that we should have and that we need to have,” said Rutherford. “So based on that, I’m looking at everything now.” Even Crosby’s leadership seems to be coming into question when Rutherford comments on a level of desperation that he felt went from bad to worse in Friday’s 2-0 loss that ended the best-of-five in four games. With their season on the line in the third period, the Penguins only had nine shots on goal. “There’s something wrong if you don’t have that drive to win in that point in time,” said Rutherford. “I don’t know, did some of the players feel that they didn’t want to put in the extra work and stay in the bible longer, and prefer to be with their families? Nobody has the answer to all those things, but it’s very disappointing and changes need to be made.” …
TAPE TO TAPE: Sources of Pierre LeBrun’s tell him the Habs have given the Panthers permission to speak with their assistant GM, Scott Mellanby. Good call by the Panthers. They haven’t won a playoff series since 1996, a season that started with Mellanby scored a “rat trick” in Game 1. The term was coined by John Vanbeisbrouck when Mellanby killed a rat in the team’s dressing room before the game then went on to score two goals with the same stick. All season fans at Miami Arena (the Panthers home then) celebrated their team’s goals by throwing plastic rats on the ice, and the fad grew to the point thousand of the things were littering the surface by the time Florida faced Colorado in the Cup final. “I should have franchised that and got some kind of cut,” Mellanby told the Sun Sentinel in 2016. “I had my small piece of history for the team and I’m proud of it.” Maybe Mellanby could help straighten the Panthers around with a little rat magic in the future …
ON THIS (Aug. 12) DATE: Exactly 39 years ago, Serge Savard hung up the blades for good. An anchor of the Habs defence for 14 of his 17 seasons, Savard helped his hometown team win eight Stanley Cups before winding down with the Winnipeg Jets. Interesting to note: Despite only reaching double digits in goals twice and never winning the Norris Trophy, Savard was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986 and in 2017 was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history …
CLOSING TIME : The Blue Jackets didn’t score a goal against the Maple Leafs in 28 minutes of man advantage time but they capitalized just 28 seconds into their first power play against the Lightning … When Ottawa’s local NHL team says it will make a “significant community announcement” on Wednesday at Brewer Assessment Centre you might sit up and take notice. When the first sentence of the press release mentions that in attendance will be Spartacat, the team’s “ambassador of fun,” you wonder just how significant the announcement could be … Confessions of a sportswriter in the Eastern time zone – before Tuesday I had never heard of Dillon Dube …
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