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

Billy WestContributor IJanuary 2, 2010

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

"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.