Panthers bench Sergei Bobrovsky after disappointing start in Florida

Ailish Forfar
NHL Editor
Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers is benched ahead of Saturday's game against Nashville. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Sometimes a change of scenery brings forth a boost in performance and production, but for Sergei Bobrovsky and the Florida Panthers, that has yet to be seen.

Ahead of Saturday night’s matchup against the Nashville Predators, the two-time Vezina trophy winner has reportedly been benched. Joel Quenneville told The Athletic's George Richards on Friday that the decision to give backup Chris Driedger his first NHL start is based on Bobrovsky’s recent performance, and not a scheduled move.

“We will see how [Driedger] handles what is a great opportunity for him,” said Quenneville. “Bob will certainly get back in there soon. This is not a scheduled start, but that is where it’s at.”

Bobrovsky has had a tough time adjusting to his new climate after being acquired in free-agency this summer. He signed a franchise-record seven-year, $70-million deal on July 1st with the Panthers, locking him in until the 2025-26 season.

His end of season numbers with Columbus last year saw a .913 save percentage and a 2.58 goals against average with nine shutouts, making him a desirable goaltender for most teams.

This year, through 21 games played with Florida, Bobrovsky is suffering with a 3.48 goals against average (which ranks 50th in the NHL), and a lowly .884 save percentage (which puts him 51st). Both are the poorest numbers he’s logged during his 10-year career in the NHL.

“I could play better, for sure,” Bobrovsky said Wednesday night. “I don’t want to talk about negative things. I just have to move on.”

Ahead of his first NHL start, the 25-year-old Driedger, a third-round pick of the Senators in 2012 who has seen action in three NHL games, told Richards that he’s excited for the opportunity.

“Now that I am here, it is obviously very exciting for me and I want to just keep doing the things I have been doing, but I am going to have to ramp up my game a little at this level.”

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