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Flyers Will Stick with Leighton for Game 6

Tuesday, 06.8.2010 / 3:11 PM ET / 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 - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 82 22 59 1 81
C. Giroux 81 25 48 -3 73
M. Streit 81 9 43 -8 52
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
B. Schenn 82 18 29 -5 47
S. Couturier 82 15 22 4 37
M. Del Zotto 64 10 22 -5 32
M. Read 80 8 22 -4 30
M. Raffl 67 21 7 6 28
V. Lecavalier 57 8 12 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 18 18 11 .928 2.25
R. Emery 10 11 7 .894 3.06
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