Russian stars could decide Jackets’ series
Dmitry Orlov scoring on Sergei Bobrovsky is a popular clip at a bar in their hometown in southwestern Siberia.
“They always show my goal to him,” Orlov said. “My friends said that.”
Orlov and Bobrovsky are good friends going back to their time growing up together and have played together on the Russian national team with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Artemi Panarin. They’re split on opposite sides of a first-round series between Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Orlov’s Washington Capitals and Bobrovsky and Panarin’s Columbus Blue Jackets. Game 1 is tonight in Washington.
“They’re good players, obviously, and we need to work [against] them,” Orlov said. “Panarin have good skill so we need to not give him a lot of space and Bob we need to put more shots, more traffic on him. If we win, it will be nice.”
Perhaps not since the Detroit Red Wings’ Russian Five has a Stanley Cup playoff series had so many prominent players from Russia, with all eyes on those them as potential X-factors. It starts with Bobrovsky, a two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender who aims to rebound from starting his NHL playoff career 3-10 with a 3.63 goals-against average and .887 save percentage.
“He’s going to rise to the occasion,” Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno said. “He has every time he’s been challenged. If I had to pick anybody in the league to go into the playoffs with it would be him, and I think he’s pretty confident about the team in front of him.”