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Flyers Will Stick with Leighton for Game 6

Tuesday, 06.08.2010 / 3:11 PM / News
By Adam Kimelman  - NHL.com
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Flyers Will Stick with Leighton for Game 6
(Philadelphia, PA) - Frayed nerves and stress are part of any Stanley Cup Final, especially when a team is 24 hours away from facing the end of its season. So when Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was asked who his goalie would be for the pivotal Game 6 Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS), he answered the question with a question.

"Do you know who's starting in net for Chicago?" Laviolette asked during a post-practice press conference Tuesday. "Have they announced that? Nobody's asked?"

When told it certainly would be Antti Niemi, Laviolette replied, "Our goaltender has the best numbers in the playoffs. I didn't think I had to announce it."
Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michael Leighton stretches during practice for the NHL Stanley Cup Finals on Tuesday, June 8, 2010, in Philadelphia. The Chicago Blackhawks lead the Flyers 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. Game 6 is Wednesday. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

So without making an official proclamation, it was made clear Michael Leighton would be back in net for the Flyers.

The numbers Laviolette is referring to are Leighton's playoff-best 2.34 goals-against average and three shutouts, and second-best .918 save percentage.

Despite that impressive stat line, there were doubts after Leighton was replaced by Brian Boucher for the final two periods of Game 5 after Leighton allowed three goals on 13 shots. It was the second time Leighton had been pulled in this series; he was replaced by Boucher in the second period of Game 1 after he allowed five goals on 20 shots.

But Laviolette was unequivocal in his support of Leighton.

"I'm very confident in Michael," Laviolette said. "He's played excellent in the playoffs. His home numbers are terrific. I'm very confident in Michael."

Those home numbers make Leighton an easy choice for Laviolette -- in six postseason home games, Leighton is 6-0 with a 1.48 GAA, .949 save percentage and two shutouts.

Not only is Leighton strong at home, he's been pretty good after losses. After getting blitzed for five goals in Game 3 of the conference finals against Montreal, he responded with a 17-save shutout. After getting pulled in Game 1 against the Blackhawks, he stopped 24 of 26 shots in losing Game 2, and then stopped 24 of 27 shots in the Flyers' overtime victory in Game 3.

Laviolette isn't the only one confident in Leighton. Prior to the coach speaking to the media, Flyers players said it didn't matter to them who was in net because either goalie had their support.

"Doesn't matter who's playing," forward Danny Briere said. "Everybody seems to be telling me it's Leighton. I have no clue, I haven't heard anything. But Michael, every time he's had a bad game, he's stepped up with a big game in the next one. That's why I'm not worried about who plays and what's going to happen back there."

"Doesn't matter," defenseman Matt Carle said. "We have confidence in both those guys. We've shown that throughout the playoffs and the regular season."

Leighton said bouncing back from getting pulled or losing games is all about being in the proper mindset.

"You mentally prepare a little more because you obviously don't want it to happen again," Leighton said. "You work hard and try to make the saves the team needs you to make, and try not to do too much and just try to do my job and not worry about anything else."

It also helps to have a chip on your shoulder.

"You get mad when you get pulled," Leighton said. "Do you want to get back out there and prove it was a fluke? That's what I want to do. I want to get back in there and get the support of the team back and help our team."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 82 28 58 7 86
J. Voracek 82 23 39 11 62
W. Simmonds 82 29 31 -4 60
S. Hartnell 78 20 32 11 52
M. Streit 82 10 34 3 44
B. Schenn 82 20 21 0 41
M. Read 75 22 18 -4 40
S. Couturier 82 13 26 1 39
V. Lecavalier 69 20 17 -16 37
K. Timonen 77 6 29 5 35
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 33 18 7 .917 2.50
R. Emery 9 12 2 .903 2.96
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