The Leight to Miss 8-10 Weeks, Put the Load Right on Boosh

The Leight to Miss 8-10 Weeks, Put the Load Right on Boosh

When Michael Leighton had trouble getting off the ice during the loss to the Predators, and the words "high ankle sprain" came across the wireless, the doom and gloom began. We all know how tough that injury can be to come back from, and today the team confirmed that Leighton will be on the shelf for a long time—8 to 10 weeks... 

Absolutely deflating news for the Flyers, who can't afford to go any further off course if they want to make the playoffs this season.

 

With their original starting goalie already out for the season, the Flyers have been fortunate to have an unpredictably brilliant run from a goalie they claimed off waivers in Leighton. Now they'll need to go back to their original backup plan, Brian Boucher, who was signed in the off-season to swing the door behind Ray Emery.

From the moment he signed, Emery was a question mark for a variety of reasons unrelated to injury. In part due to salary cap constraints, a higher-priced backup wasn't an option, and as usual, the goaltending situation was an area of uncertainty for the Flyers. But money wasn't the only reason Paul Holmgren put his faith in Boosh. 

As we've discussed here before, Boucher started 20 games for the Sharks last season, many of which were while regular starter Evgeni Nabokov was out with an injury. He started eight games from February 26 to March 17, and seven games from November 8 to 22. Over the course of last season, Boosh posted 12 wins, a 2.18 GAA, a .917 save percentage, and two shutouts. Not bad...

Now, the Flyers aren't going to be mistaken the Sharks of last season. San Jose went on to win the President's Trophy with 117 points, whereas the Flyers have underwhelmed considerably in '09-'10. But the Sharks' success and "regular season championship" wouldn't have happened without solid play from Boucher, as well as the other key to great goaltending—excellent team defense. Play solidly in front of Boosh, and the team can stay at least on the course they've been on all season.

Of course we can't look for all the answers on Boucher in last season's performances alone, but the truth is, it's hard to glean much from what he's done for the Flyers recently. We really don't know how effective he'll be as the starter because he hasn't played much in 2010, with only four appearances since December 21, none of which were starts. What we have seen of him lately has been in mop-up duty, on nights when the team isn't playing well in front of whichever guy has the misfortune of wearing the pads. 

The course of this season isn't on Boucher's shoulders though—it's on that of the team in front of him. At no point has this roster been built to be carried by the guy in the mask. It's time for the skaters to be the ones standing on their heads for a while, adding to their above-average scoring while not giving up too many breaks the other way. They've shown that they're capable of being that team, just not consistently.  

Am I being overly optimistic? Depends on how you read that last sentence. 

As for Leighton, it's hard not to feel terrible for him. He has resurrected his career since the Flyers claimed him, and who knows where his season was headed. At times, it felt just as likely he could carry them deep in the playoffs as it did that he would revert to the form we originally expected from him. Who knows what's next for the goalie who lives in a hotel, but I think we'll see more of him in Orange & Black beyond this season.

Photo by John Russell, NHLI via Getty Images.

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

For the most part, Carson Wentz had a pretty successful rookie season. 

Sure, the Eagles finished with a 7-9 record, but Wentz did enough to continue the franchise's belief that he is indeed the quarterback of the future. 

Another guy in Dallas did the same thing with the Cowboys. Actually, Dak Prescott had an even more impressive rookie season, leading the Cowboys to 13 wins, while winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. 

Prescott, a fourth-round pick, had a great year, but didn't try to do too much. And that's what impressed Eagles head coach Doug Pederson the most. 

"[Prescott] understood this right away, that he didn't have to win the game for them," Pederson said on The Doomsday Podcast, hosted by Matt Mosley and Ed Werder. (Pederson also talked about running the Rocky steps). "He knew that he had a good defense, a tremendous offensive line, a great runner, he had some veteran players that he could rely on and he learned that early. As soon as he had the opportunity to play and that was early, from Day 1. 

"That's something that a young quarterback, sometimes it takes them a while to figure out the game that way. That's the impressive thing, that he learned how to handle that business that well, utilize the people around him and understand that he didn't have to go win the game."

While Prescott had plenty of help during his rookie season, it was pretty evident Wentz was lacking in that area. 

Prescott had a great offensive line, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott and others. Wentz had an offensive line that was missing Lane Johnson, an often-injured Ryan Mathews and receivers like Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham playing serious snaps. 

So it made sense when the team went out this offseason and signed Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and recently LeGarrette Blount, as free agents, finally getting Wentz some real help. 

"We had opportunities to get those two guys and it was obvious last year, we were young at the wide receiver position," Peterson said. "We needed some leadership, some veteran presence there and we went out and got that with Torrey and Alshon. We still want to build through the draft, we still want to acquire young talent. 

"LeGarrette Blount now is a guy that gives us that big back, running back, that can come in and compete and hopefully he does everything he did at New England the last couple of seasons. He had 18 rushing touchdowns for over 1,000 yards and we just expect that same level of performance here."

Maybe having weapons will allow Wentz to do what made Prescott so impressive to Pederson in 2016: not too much. 

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Pete Mackanin is still searching for answers to the Phillies' offensive woes following Sunday afternoon's disheartening 1-0 loss in Pittsburgh during which the Phils could only muster three hits.

The latest lineup twist as the search for an answer continues will see Michael Saunders bat in the eight-hole tonight as the Phils open a four-game series with the surging Rockies tonight at Citizens Bank Park (see game notes).

When he has started this season, Saunders has been a fixture within the middle of the Phillies' order. After all, the offseason free-agent signing was an All-Star for Toronto last season when he hit 24 homers and drove in 57 runs.

But this season hasn't gone as planned as Saunders is hitting just .232 with four homers and 15 RBI in 41 games with the Phils this season.

With Saunders' drop down the lineup, Tommy Joseph will bat fourth, Maikel Franco fifth and Odubel Herrera sixth against Rockies spot starter Jeff Hoffman.

Tonight's full lineups can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Aaron Altherr LF
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Maikel Franco 3B
6. Odubel Herrera CF
7. Cameron Rupp C
8. Michael Saunders RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff SP

Rockies
1. Charlie Blackmon CF
2. D.J. LeMehiau 2B
3. Nolan Arenado 3B
4. Carlos Gonzalez RF
5. Mark  Reynolds 1B
6. Gerardo Parra LF
7. Alexi Amarista SS
8. Tony Wolters C
9. Jeff Hoffman SP