October 11 Philadelphia Daily News columnist Frank Seravalli:
“A little more than 12 months ago, after the Flyers opened their 2009-10 season with a methodical shutout win over the Carolina Hurricanes, a relative unknown with big question marks left fans wondering if general manager Paul Holmgren found a diamond in the rough in Ray Emery.
Many thought Emery, who was blacklisted from the NHL and sent to play in Russia after being run out of Ottawa because of boorish off-ice behavior, was the solution to the Flyers’ goaltending conundrum.
Emery was quick, acrobatic and effective.
Scouts wondered aloud as to whether Emery could ever get his psyche in sync with his physical talent.
Flash forward 1 year: Enter Sergei Bobrovsky, a complete unknown with big question marks, who has left fans wondering if he is the next great goaltender to emerge from Russia.
Bobrovsky, 22, went undrafted because of a complex KHL-to-NHL transfer agreement that left some of Russia’s top talent uncharted for fear that a draft pick might be wasted on a player who more than likely never will make it to North America.
Bobrovsky is faster post-to-post than one of Emery’s Lamborghinis, has a great feel for shots, and never quits on a puck.
What could set Bobrovsky apart – from Emery, Antero Niittymaki, Roman Cechmanek and all others who have tried to be the “next one” – could be what resides between his ears.
He does not bat an eye at pressure.
After shutting out Pittsburgh for two periods in his NHL debut, on a night when the Penguins celebrated the opening of a new arena, Bobrovsky said he does not care about a rivalry between the Flyers and Penguins. He has not been in the United States long enough to even know the two teams are in the same state.
Bobrovsky cannot read this story without the help of a translator. He cannot read the Twitter comments, the online message boards, and he is just beginning to understand what is being said on the radio and television, thanks to thrice-weekly English lessons. Maybe that’s a good thing.”
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