Flyers to Start Leighton in Winter Classic, Follow Conklin's Example

Flyers to Start Leighton in Winter Classic, Follow Conklin's Example

It's hard to bench a hot goalie, and damn near impossible not to go with one coming off a shutout. Michael Leighton may not be standing on his head so far in his Flyers career, but he's been pretty good, and you can't argue with results. Since the former waivee first saw ice time with Philadelphia, the team hasn't lost.  

Photo via John Boruk on twitter

When we found out the Flyers would be in the Winter Classic, I don't think any of us imagined Leighton being their starting goalie. Especially not those of us who were watching the game on Halloween, when Leighton, then with Carolina, was torched by his current teammates for 6 goals on 28 shots. I remember saying something along the lines of "Oh, I get it. Michael Leighton's costume is 'Out of Position Backup Goaltender.' I love the subtle ones." I kill me.

But Leighton seems to be making the best of his new surroundings. He still gets caught out of position a bit more than we'd like, but he's recovered more often than not, and along with all the non-goalies now getting healthy, the Flyers are giving all indications of a team that has pulled out of its tailspin. 

Leighton may not be Patrick Roy, but he's the hot hand right now, and whether you're playing at the Wachovia Center or on the field at Fenway Park, every last hockey fan knows you don't mess with that. 

Interesting fact about the Winter Classic and backup goalies though... Every NHL outdoor game has featured the visiting team starting a backup—and it's been Ty Conklin every time. As an Oiler, Conklin lost to the Canadiens in the 2003 Heritage Classic. He later started for the Penguins in a 2-1 win over the Sabres in 2008, and the Red Wings when they beat the Blackhawks at Wrigley in 2009. The game before the Pens-Sabres Classic, Conklin notched a shutout. In the game two days before the Red Wings-Blackhawks classics, he notched a shutout. 

That's not a bad precedent, Mr. Leighton. 

CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

Twenty-five of the Union’s 34 games in 2017 will be featured on CSN and TCN, as Jim Curtin’s club vies for a second straight playoff berth.

Twenty matches will air on TCN, while five can be seen on CSN. The nine others will be appear across 6ABC, ESPN and FOX Sports 1.

The Union’s season opener on March 5 at the Vancouver Whitecaps will broadcast on TCN and the team’s home opener on March 11 against Toronto FC will air on CSN. The next three games — March 18 at Orlando City SC, April 1 at D.C. United and April 8 vs. the Portland Timbers — will be shown on TCN.

The Union are coming off an 11-14-9 season and their second-ever trip to the MLS playoffs in which they suffered a first-round exit to Toronto FC.

For the Union’s full 2017 schedule, click here.

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jonathan Toews had three goals and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks beat rival Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday night for their second win over the Western Conference-leading Wild in less than two weeks.

Toews notched his fourth career hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:02 left to stave off a spirited rally by the Wild, who began a franchise-record eight-game homestand on Feb. 8 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. Toews had a goal and two assists in that one and has 37 points in 35 career games against Minnesota.

Chicago's captain has been chewing up almost everyone else, too, with 20 points in his last 12 games. Toews' wing men Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik had the other goals, giving the Blackhawks 34 goals in their last eight games. Their first line totaled nine points.

Mikael Granlund's second power-play goal for the Wild brought them within 4-3, before Ryan Suter hit the crossbar with a shot that nearly tied it (see full recap).

Islanders open 9-game road trip with win
DETROIT -- Calvin de Haan was credited with a go-ahead goal that caromed off an opponent late in the second period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Tuesday night.

De Haan's shot from above the left circle was stopped by Petr Mrazek, but the rebound went off Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet and the back of the goaltender's left leg and into the net. John Tavares scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal lead and they coasted to the victory.

Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, and Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for New York.

Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit and Mrazek finished with 19 saves.

The Islanders, in contention for a wild-card spot, began a stretch of nine straight road games by winning for the third time in four games and improved to 8-13-4 away from home (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins take care of Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Scott Wilson also scored to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions bounce back from their only loss since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh moved three points behind East-leading Washington and is 7-1-3 since the break.

Jeff Skinner scored for the last-place Hurricanes, who have their second five-game losing streak in the past five weeks. They have been outscored 19-4 during the current slide.

Matt Murray made 29 saves for the Penguins while Cam Ward stopped 19 shots for Carolina (see full recap).