Philadelphia Flyers Claim Fifth Spot in the East; Ferme La Bouch

FLYERS LIVEContributor IMarch 19, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 10:  Brian Boucher #33 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates against the Ottawa Senators on December 10, 2009 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The title of this article is directed towards all of the critics and haters out there that seem to think that the Flyers season is over. It is currently 2-2 in the second period, and it is Brian Boucher's first start in months.

After Michael Leighton suffered a high ankle sprain against Nashville on Tuesday, he will not return for 8-10 weeks, and likely won’t return this season. Remember, M.L. was picked up off waivers from Carolina to serve as a backup to Boucher while Emery was out the first time.

He stepped up his game, and due to a finger injury to Boucher prior to the Winter Classic, Leighton turned himself into starter but is now along side Ray Emery on the long term IR.

What does this mean for the Flyers' hopes for the duration of the 2009/10 season as well as in the post season?

I think Leighton has done an O.K. job thus far for the Fly but is not an elite goaltender in the NHL. When the Flyers offense, defense, and special teams are playing well, you could shave a monkey and put him between the pipes and he would collect some wins.

Brian Boucher has much more experience in the league and has been a starter on various teams in the past, as well as a dependable backup. The former WHL goalie for the Tri-City Americans was drafted 22nd overall by the Flyers in 1995.

Back in the Flyers 1999-2000 playoff run, Boosh had 11 wins, seven losses, a GAA of 2.03, and a SV percentage of .918. Not bad numbers at all, but that was ten years ago!

Let’s take a quick look at his stats with the San Jose Sharks. In the last two seasons, he started 27 games; 15 wins, seven losses, and four ties with a GAA of  1.96 and a SV percentage of  9.24.

It is unfortunate that when Brian got the chance to become the starter earlier on in the season, the team was struggling to score goals and were also in a coaching transition. I’m not confident that it was Leighton who was a key factor when the Flyers started to get their act together, but he did play O.K. in the meantime.

Despite injuries to Briere, Gagne, Parent, Powe, and Betts, they all got better and were back in the line up when Leighton went on his run. It allowed for better matched lines, reunited chemistry, and a well balanced offense, as well as strong defensive pairings in front of our goaltender.

Also, the team was starting to adapt to a new style of hockey under coach Peter Laviolette that took the better part of a month to show progress. The Flyers have become much more disciplined on the ice and are spending less time on the PK.

The horn just sounded here to end the game in Dallas, and the Flyers are now in fifth spot in the Eastern Conference with 79 points and a game at hand on the Senators. It looks like we have nothing to worry about; with Boucher as our starter there is no doubt in my mind that he can and will do an equal if not better job than Leighton has done and continue our momentum into the Payoffs.

Tonight Boosh had 27 saves in 29 shots vs. the Stars, which turned out to be a huge confidence booster for himself and the Flyers. I give him a week or two, and he will become the fan favorite, and we will slowly forget who Michael Leighton is. With 13 games remaining it is time to step it up. Let's go Flyers.

Thanks for the read!

R. J. C.

Armchair G.M.