NHL: Panthers hold G Sergei Bobrovsky out of practice before Game 7

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Sergei Bobrovsky is trying to rediscover his rhythm before it’s too late.

For the Florida Panthers’ top goaltender, that meant sitting out practice on Sunday with one day before Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at home against the Edmonton Oilers.

Bobrovsky, 35, was not present at the Panthers’ practice the day before Game 7. Panthers coach Paul Maurice later told reporters that Bobrovsky had not participated in practices the day before games during the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs, when there was normally one day between games.

However, Bobrovsky did practice the day before Games 3, 5 and 6 of the finals, when there were two-day breaks between games.

“As we’ve gotten further along, we wanted to get him back into routine on the day before,” Maurice said. “So, it’s to get back to an actual repeatable pattern, even though the days aren’t lined up the same.”

Bobrovsky had been a wall for much of the Panthers’ playoff run, and he blanked the Oilers in Game 1 of the finals before allowing one goal and three goals, respectively, in Games 2 and 3.

Florida has proceeded to cough up a 3-0 series lead. Bobrovsky was dinged for five goals on 16 shots in 24:53 of ice time in Game 4, an 8-1 loss to Edmonton; the Russian gave up four goals in Game 5 and three in Game 6 as the Oilers clawed back into the series.

“It’s definitely not his fault,” Panthers star Matthew Tkachuk said. “It’s on us to tighten up defensively, get off to better starts. We’ve been trailing in each of the last three games, which might open you up a little bit and cost you more chances against. So, we have to be a lot better in front of him. So, it’s definitely, definitely not his fault. Absolutely not.”

In the 20 playoff games before his tough week, Bobrovsky had gone 15-5-0 with a 2.07 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage. He backstopped a dominant Florida team that defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning, Boston Bruins and New York Rangers to make it to the Stanley Cup Final for the second straight year.

Veteran Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad also took a rest day Sunday, in keeping with his pattern throughout the series.

–Field Level Media

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