Here’s some facts: two seasons ago, Michael Leighton was the Philadelphia Flyers’ goaltender in playoffs. Michael Leighton took the Flyers to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Michael Leighton is not a very good goaltender.
Actually, that’s a little too blunt – Michael Leighton is not good enough to be an NHL starter; backup is debatable. He spent this season with Adirondack of the AHL, playing 56 times and putting together a .918 save percentage.
To the point: today Ilya Bryzgalov left Flyers practice after 10 minutes, and Michael Leighton stepped back into the crease for Philly.
Bryzgalov had foot problems towards the end of the regular season, and it seems likely to me that the nagging injury isn’t doing better. (Though Jason Brough over at Pro Hockey Talk did hypothesize that maybe the Flyers just yanked him after 10 minutes of practice for giving up too many goals).
Call me crazy here, but does anyone else feel the series starting to tip the Penguins way? Obviously they’re in a bad situation and unlikely to win, but for a comeback to happen it kind of feels like the right pieces are falling in place. I don’t believe in game-to-game momentum in hockey, but I do believe teams have a collective psyche that you don’t want heading the wrong way in playoffs.
The Pens finally got over the hump with a win last night, and it wouldn’t be too hard to see the Flyers feeling a bit panicky. Well, nervous at least. Playing in front of less-than-secure goaltending can be trying.
Momentum may not be a thing, but confidence is. If the Penguins is growing and Flyers is doing the opposite, this series could have plenty of fun in store for us yet.