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.

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored two goals, Sidney Crosby added his league-leading 28th and the Pittsburgh Penguins won their fourth straight game, 5-1 over the Boston Bruins 5-1 on Sunday.

Pittsburgh led 2-1 through two periods before breaking out in the third with three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 57 seconds.

Sheary scored his 17th and has nine goals in nine games. Bryan Rust added his 12th and Patric Hornqvist his 11th for the Penguins, who won a season-high seventh straight at home. Pittsburgh the NHL's best home team, is 13-0-1 in its last 14 home games.

Evgeni Malkin had two assists for a season-best seven-game point streak. Crosby added two assists for a three-point game. Matt Murray made 44 saves to win his fourth straight game.

David Krejci scored his 11th for the Bruins, who have lost four straight and five of their last six (see full recap).

Rangers shut out Red Wings in 1-0 OT win
DETROIT -- J.T. Miller scored at 1:56 of overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season and 61st of his career. The Rangers managed only 19 shots in a game that featured few memorable chances by either team.

The winner came when Mats Zuccarello and Miller swooped in alone on Detroit goalie Jared Coreau. Zuccarello made a simple pass to Miller, who lifted the puck over Coreau for his 16th goal of the season.

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall played for the first time since Jan. 4, returning from a lower-body injury. The Red Wings put forward Drew Miller on waivers (see full recap).

Atikinson lifts Jackets over Senators in wild OT win
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Cam Atkinson's second goal of the game at 1:09 of overtime lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets a 7-6 win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.

Atkinson had a breakaway after a shot by Senators captain Erik Karlsson missed the Columbus net and went around the boards out to Atkinson, who was at center-ice.

The Blue Jackets trailed 5-3 after two periods before Lukas Sedlak and Matt Calvert scored 31 seconds apart to tie it less than 2 1/2 minutes into the third. Atklnson then gave Columbus a 6-5 lead with 9:10 remaining, before Kyle Turries tied it for Ottawa on the power play less than 2 minutes later.

Nick Foligno, Scott Harrington and Zach Werenski also scored for the Blue Jackets, and Joonas Korpisalo finished with 28 saves.

Zach Smith and Mike Hoffman each had two goals and Mark Stone also scored for the Senators. Mike Condon had 22 saves (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Lakers suffer worst loss in team history

Best of NBA: Lakers suffer worst loss in team history

DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks had something to prove on Sunday following two straight tough losses.

Coming off a three-point effort in an overtime loss on Friday, Nowitzki scored all 13 of his points in the first half and Dallas gave the Los Angeles Lakers the worst loss in their history, 122-73.

"We didn't show up to play," Lakers coach Luke Walton said. "It's embarrassing for us as a team and for us as an organization. The effort just wasn't there tonight, which I don't understand."

The 49-point defeat just edged Los Angeles' two previous worst losses at 48 points, most recently 123-75 at Utah on March 28, 2016.

The Mavericks' winning margin was the third-largest in their history.

It was Dallas' 13th straight win over the Lakers, who have lost six of their last seven games overall (see full recap).

Curry, Thompson each hit 7 3s, Warriors pull away from Magic
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson each hit seven 3-pointers and the Golden State Warriors won their seventh straight game, beating the Orlando Magic 118-98 on Sunday.

Tied at the half, the Warriors woke up from West Coast time in the second half to pull away. This was the first Eastern time zone noon tip for them since 1995, when they lost by 34 points in Orlando.

Curry went 7 for 13 on 3s and scored 27 points while Thompson as 7 for 9 from behind the arc and had 21 points. The Warriors shot 19 of 42 overall from 3-point range while the Magic went 7 for 28.

After trailing by 11 in the first half and committing a dozen turnovers, the Warriors went into the break even at 50. Curry hit four 3s and had 14 points in the third quarter as the Warriors outscored the Magic 42-24 (see full recap).

Bledsoe's career day leads Suns over Raptors 115-103
TORONTO -- Eric Bledsoe scored a career-high 40 points and had 13 assists and the Phoenix Suns handed the Toronto Raptors their third straight loss, 115-103 on Sunday night.

Bledsoe was 11 of 17 from the floor, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range, and Devin Booker added 20 points as the Suns won their second straight road game following Saturday's win at New York. The victory also completed a season sweep of the Raptors for the first time since 2013-14 and improved Phoenix to 11-6 against Eastern Conference teams this season.

DeMar DeRozan had 22 points for Toronto and Jonas Valanciunas added 16 points and 12 rebounds for his 17th double-double of the season. It's the first time the Raptors have lost three straight since Nov. 6-10, 2015.

Kyle Lowry was ejected with 1:30 left after a flagrant-two foul following contact with the head of Brandon Knight. It capped a night to forget for Lowry, who had 15 points but shot just 5 of 17, including 1 of 9 from 3-point range (see full recap).