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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 MTL 63 41 17 5 171 139 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 63 19 46 5 65
C. Giroux 62 18 41 2 59
W. Simmonds 63 25 18 -1 43
M. Streit 63 8 32 -4 40
B. Schenn 63 12 23 -5 35
S. Couturier 63 12 16 1 28
M. Del Zotto 51 8 17 -5 25
M. Read 63 6 18 -9 24
M. Raffl 48 14 4 6 18
V. Lecavalier 45 7 10 -8 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 12 13 7 .926 2.25
R. Emery 10 10 4 .893 3.15
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