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Michael Leighton Gets His Stab at the Big Time, Delivers for Philadelphia Flyers

BOSTON - JANUARY 01:  Marco Sturm #16 of the Boston Bruins scores a goal against Michael Leighton #49 of the Philadelphia Flyers to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in overtime during the 2010 Bridgestone Winter Classic at Fenway Park on January 1, 2010 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Billy WestContributor IOctober 8, 2016

"Problems can become opportunities when the right people come together."

Robert South

Who would have thought that opportunity would become the Winter Classic for Michael Leighton?

Merely a fortnight or so ago the Flyers were faced with the idea of continuing their losing streak without Emery or Boucher in net.  Admittedly at the time I thought, what does it matter?

The two top goaltenders in Philly might as well be injured, the Flyers seriously needed Betts, Gagne, and Powe back in the lineup and I figured once the netminders finally got back the lines would be healthy again too and things could crank back up.

Michael Leighton has surprised me, because I was not expecting this kind of outcome five games into his arrival. 

What strikes me immediately about Leighton besides his size, is how he does the simple things right, a result of years in minor leagues and watching Cam Ward play each night I suppose.  He is very calm in his net and shows alot of patience in the position, and I'm more than happy to have a guy like that minding net in the current situation.

If you haven't watched any Flyers games lately, you wouldn't know that Leighton has been helped a lot by the Flyers effort to maintain rebounds and clean things up around their own net, but that's OK.  He's the backup's backup at the moment, and I quite happily accept him there while the Flyers D-men are aware and leave Leighton by himself very minimally. 

Having said this, even when left alone, Leighton still maintains his poise and simplicity.  In a shootout against Carolina, he stopped both shots, one by Jussi Jokinen who is known for his ability to score a ton of shootout goals.  When I think about it, the Carolina players would have practised shootouts with Leighton many times, but I don't know who'd have the advantage in familiar goalie/skater situations.

Leighton has taken full advantage of this opportunity, and may receive many more such opportunities in the future because of the way he handled this one.  I can't wait for Emery to come back from injury and be that missing piece that completes "humpty dumpty," but until then, I am more than happy with Michael Leighton minding the net.

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