Will it be Leighton or Boucher in Game 2?
Before the Flyers hold their practice this afternoon and we get a hint of what Laviolette may do with his goaltenders in Game 2 -- or we aren’t told anything at all -- I figured we could go ahead and debate whether the Flyers should turn back to Michael Leighton.
Leighton allowed five goals on 20 shots, and while he certainly isn’t to completely blame for the loss he wasn’t just a victim of some horrible defense by the Flyers. He certainly didn’t look like the confident goaltender who recorded three shutouts against the Canadiens, and resembled a goaltender without much overall experience making his first start in the Stanley Cup finals.
The Flyers haven’t faced a team with the offensive firepower of the Chicago Blackhawks, and it certainly showed. So now we ask whether the Flyers should turn back to Leighton in Game 2 after he was pulled, or should the Flyers stick with veteran Brian Boucher?
Boucher is the veteran, and he’s experienced when it comes to the way the game amps up the deeper you get in the playoffs. Leighton appeared unprepared for how fast the game would be, how the nerves would affect himself and the team. Boucher looked good in relief, despite allowing the winning goal and you have to wonder if sticking with Boucher would give the Flyers some stability after such an out of control effort in Game 1.
Still, teams are generally hesitant to flat out switch goaltenders in the middle of the Stanley Cup finals. Would going right back to Boucher, after it was the entire team and not just Leighton that had the bad game, be sending the wrong message to the team?
There’s also the fact that teams sometimes just play differently in front of one goaltender over another. Perhaps having Boucher in net will calm the Flyers, especially with how the defense performed in Game 1. Still, Leighton was the goaltender that played so well in the series against the Canadiens and you wonder if he deserves at least a chance to acquit himself after a poor showing in the opening game of the series.
You have to think that Laviolette will start Leighton in Game 2, but keep him on a very short leash. Still, you wonder if the Blackhawks were right, saying before the series started that they thought Leighton played so well because of the defense in front of him and not because of his particularly strong play.