Philly Goaltending Carousel
CHICAGO--The way in which the Flyers handled their goaltending issue on the off-day between Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup final was rather strange.
Very Philadelphia, really, at least when it comes to dealing with masked men.
This is a team that has gone through a boggling number of goaltenders over the years. Just since Simon Gagne played his first game for the Flyers in 1999, the club has used 15 different goaltenders in at least one game.
Brian Boucher. John Vanbiesbrouck. Roman Cechmanek. Maxim Ouellet. Neil Little. Robert Esche. Antero Niittymaki. Jeff Hackett. Sean Burke. Martin Biron. Michael Leighton. Martin Houle. Ray Emery. Johan Backlund. Jeremy Duchesne.
Boucher and Leighton, of course, had two tours of duty, and its up to them to provide enough stabilty between the pipes for Philly to win its first Stanley Cup in 35 years.
But the manner in which head coach Peter Laviolette named Leighton the starter on Sunday was yet another strange new twist.
In the early afternoon, Laviolette went out of his way to categorically tell a press conference that he would not reveal the identity of his Game 2 starter, saying it was all "internal" and would stay that way. Leighton had given up five goals on 20 shots in Game 1 before giving way to Boucher.
Hours later, the Flyers PR staff released word that Leighton would in fact be the starter. So what changed?
Why didn't Laviolette simply say Leighton would start earlier in the day instead of letting his goalie answer mutliple questions about how he would feel if he didn't get the nod?
What apparently happened is that after Laviolette's presser, a team source told CSNPhilly.com that Leighton would start and posted that story on the Internet. Shortly after, the Flyers confirmed the story.
What a strange way to do business in the Cup final. Laviolette ended up looking silly, protecting a piece of team information that got out anyway.
Analysts were mixed over whether Boucher or Leighton should get the start. But starting Leighton tonight at least gives him a second chance and avoids the appearance of panic. If the Hawks win again, Laviolette can turn to Boucher for Game 3 on Wednesday.
But the entire matter sure hasn't been handled with confidence by the Flyers.