It’s no consolation to the Bruins now, but we learned Saturday night that Philadelphia goaltender Michael Leighton is not, in fact, some modern-day incarnation of Martin Brodeur, Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden.
The journeyman netminder, who finished off the Bruins after taking over midway through Game 5 of the second round, was actually pulled in Game 1 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final in Chicago, as the Blackhawks went on to win a barn-burner, 6-5.
“Everybody has got to be better,” Flyers coach told the media after he was asked about pulling Leighton in favor of Brian Boucher late in the second period after Leighton allowed five goals on just 20 shots. “We win as team and we lose as a team. Tonight we lost as a team. We have to be better if we’re going to win as a team.”
To be fair, the Bruins’ pop-gun offense wasn’t the only one stifled by Leighton. In the Eastern Conference finals, Leighton was still in amazing mode with three shutouts against Montreal. The Blackhawks, however, reduced Leighton from Superman to Clark Kent with a relentless attack and determined play around the net.
“It’s like every shot they scored on. I don’t think any of them were awful goals or embarrassing goals,” said Leighton, who relinquished a one-goal lead three times before he left. “It’s just one of those things.”
With just one day before Monday’s Game 2, there won’t be a lot of time to debate Laviolette’s next net decision. But you can be sure what time there is will be filled with speculation. Does Laviolette go back to Leighton, the man who rode in on a white horse and saved the Flyers after Boucher’s injury. Or does he stick with Boucher (11 saves on 12 shots), who was The Man down the stretch of the regular season, beat the New York Rangers on the last day to get Philly in the postseason and then kept them alive until Game 5 against Boston? It’s a decision that could make or break this series, and one the former Bruins assistant coach Laviolette will be taking very seriously in the Windy City.