Philadelphia Flyers Goaltending Continues to Be Strong as the Playoffs Approach

Donald WoodFeatured ColumnistFebruary 13, 2011

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 25:  Goalies Sergei Bobrovsky #35 and Brian Boucher #33 of the Philadelphia Flyers stretch in front of the Montreal Canadiens during warmups before an NHL hockey game at the Wells Fargo Center on January 25, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

As the playoff stretch begins, the Philadelphia Flyers are looking as good as they have all year.  The team leads the Atlantic Division and they sit atop the Eastern Conference standings. 

One of the biggest question marks coming into this season, and throughout the year, would be about the stability of the Flyers goaltending.

Last season, the Flyers were hobbled by injuries in net but still managed to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals thanks to solid play from the defense.

The Flyers started the season with Michael Leighton but an offseason back surgery sidelined him for the first portion of the year.

Starting in his place were veteran journeyman Brian Boucher and relative unknown Russian rookie Sergei Bobrovsky.

The two have played so well that Leighton was optioned to the Flyers' American Hockey League affiliate the Adirondack Phantoms.

The combination of Boucher and Bobrovsky currently boasts the ninth-best goals-against average in the league but is the only team in the league that still hasn’t recorded a shutout.

Boucher and Bobrovsky both have goals-against averages under 2.50 and a save percentage of almost .919 as a duo.

Head coach Peter Laviolette has said that he will ride the hot hand, and going into the stretch for the playoffs, both netminders are playing well.

Boucher has played in 34 playoff games at the National Hockey League level and has amassed 17 wins.  He has a goals-against average of 2.20 and a save percentage of .913.

Bobrovsky has one start in the playoffs but it was in his Russian league, which is not the NHL.

The key for the success of the goaltenders this postseason will be the strength of the Flyers defense.

After the depth of the defense was exposed last year in the Finals, the management for the Flyers organization went out and addressed the problem.

By acquiring Andrej Meszaros and veteran Sean O’Donnell, the Flyers have shored up their third defensive pairing and have become the strongest defensive team in the league.

The added depth at defense will also keep top defenders like Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen fresh for key situations.

If the defense can stay healthy and playing at a high level, it will alleviate the pressure on the goaltending.

The experience may not be there in terms of playoff starts for the Flyers goaltenders, but they are both playing consistent and that’s what you need during the playoffs.