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2010 Stanley Cup Finals, Game 4: Ville Leino continues to roll

Image (1) Leino-thumb-250x166-8254.jpg for post 596

For some players, it just takes a change of scenery to really unleash the talent everyone expected them to have. Others, it’s increased minutes or a different role on the team. For some, it’s both.

For Ville Leino, it has been the postseason.

Traded from the Red Wings to the Flyers in the middle of the season, Leino scored just two goals in 13 games before the postseason started. He showed flashes at times for the Flyers, but I doubt that anyone realized just how good he would be for this team when they needed every player at their best.

With his seventh goal of the playoffs last night -- which turned out to be the game-winning goal -- Leino passed Bryan Propp to break the franchise record for points by a rookie in the playoffs. Leino has 16 points in 17 games, and has become somewhat of a revelation in Philadelphia.

After scoring his goal, one that came off a great effort and a lucky bounce, the home Flyers crowd stood and roared their appreciation for a player that was just an afterthought in a mid-season trade. What was great to see was how Leino immediately deflected questions about the record and just wanted to talk about his team’s win.

“It was a special moment,” he said with a grin. “It was a fun game. It was a nice little moment. I will remember it always. Good win there too. So it was a great game.”

Leino didn’t just arrive in Philly and set the town on fire, as the Flyers struggled to find a role for him on the team. For Leino, it was certainly a low point in his career.

“My confidence was at an all-time low there for a while,” Leino said. “It was tough when I got here. I didn’t get a chance right away. I played a few games, and after that I didn’t play again. It was just tough. Obviously, you go through emotions there and think maybe you won’t ever get a chance.”

According to the NHL, Leino is technically considered a rookie. Yet even if he wasn’t, if he was just a castoff from the Red Wings as he struggled at 26 years old to find his place in the NHL, his resurgence in the postseason would still be just as tremendous.

He was knocked around a bit by Brian Campbell in the game and had to leave, and immediately Flyers fans were worried about their team’s chances. Leino has become a vital part of this Flyers team and his confidence soars with each game. You can see it in his eyes; this is a man that is having the time of his life out on the ice. That’s not what was happening just a few months ago.

It’s amazing what happens when your team is confident in you. Right now, that confidence is at an all-time high for Ville Leino.