Posts Tagged ‘Michael Leighton

01
Nov
10

FLYERS: Leighton Making Progress

Remember Michael Leighton?

The Flyers goaltender who many recall as the man who anchored an unbelievable ride to the Stanley Cup Final last Spring was last in action in a preseason game against the Toronto Maple Leafs this year before taking himself out of the game with a sore back. That sore back turned out to be a herniated disc in his lumbar region, something that required surgery and has kept Leights out of regular season action so far this season.

However, Michael Leighton is returning.

Michael Leighton's return is not all that far away

According to reports from CSNPhilly.com‘s Tim Panaccio and the Philadelphia Daily News‘ Frank Seravalli, Leighton will begin skating again this week at practice with the Flyers. Panaccio says Leighton began some light skating over the Halloween weekend at the Skate Zone, and is aiming for a return right around Thanksgiving in a Flyers uniform. The goal right now, according to Panaccio, is for Leighton to return to practice by November 20. Back injuries are always difficult for goaltenders to deal with and it’s tough to get excited about Leighton making a return until we officially see him out on the ice sliding post to post and making the necessary cuts in the crease he’ll need to make to stop pucks in a National Hockey League game.

While Leighton’s return will undoubtedly bring about another goaltending controversy as to who is the starter in Philadelphia, it’s never a bad thing to have too many options. We all remember what Leighton did for this franchise last spring. There’s no reason not to wish him a continued speedy recovery in the hopes that he can come back and be just as effective this season.

Check out Panaccio’s full article here: FLYERS’ LEIGHTON GETS BACK ON THE ICE

28
Sep
10

FLYERS: Injury Shelf for Leighton, Laperriere

In case you were in another hemisphere this afternoon, you probably know the biggest news out of Flyers camp today as the team announced that starting goaltender Michael Leighton and winger Ian Laperriere will both miss extended time with injuries.

Leighton, the goaltender who miraculously led the Flyers to within two wins of the Stanley Cup last season after being a waiver-wire claim, was found to have a bulging disc in his back that will require the recently appointed starting goaltender in Philadelphia to miss at least a month of action. While a bulging disc in the back is certainly nothing to play around with, the injury scarcely compares to that of Laperriere’s.

Ian Laperriere may be out of action for the Flyers for quite some time

The gritty Flyers winger who has quickly become a fan favorite in the City of Brotherly Love revealed today that he has been suffering from Post-Concussion syndrome, something that has been hampering the 36-year-old since he made an unexpected return from a brain contusion last season. The condition will keep Lappy off the ice indefinitely, and in turn leave many to wonder if the Flyers handled the situation properly. Anyone who has dealt with post-concussion syndrome knows it can be a pain and can linger for quite some time – just ask Keith Primeau, Simon Gagne, or even Marc Savard. I’ll reserve judgment at this time on the situation, simply because a lot of the details are still coming to fruition.

With that being said, however, I don’t blame Laperriere for playing last spring. He’s a professional hockey player. He’s grown up his whole life waiting for a chance to take a sip from Lord Stanley’s chalice and, perhaps in his mind, he felt that last Spring was his final go at it so he went out and gave it his all in what ended up being a losing effort. You can’t fault a guy for wanting to win and wanting to be a part of the unit in crunch-time – Lappy is the ultimate team player. He’ll be missed both on and off the ice.

With Laperriere out of the line-up, there suddenly becomes a bit of competition for the final Flyers forward slot. To quote Eagles head coach Andy Reid: Bill Guerin, Ben Holmstrom, and Mike Testwuide, “Time’s yours.”

For more on Laperriere and Leighton’s injuries, check out this article here: FLYERS LEIGHTON OUT FOR A MONTH, LAPERRIERE INDEFINITELY

Best of luck to Lappy and Leights on each of them having a healthy and speedy recovery.

22
Sep
10

FLYERS: Bobrovsky Continues to Turn Heads in Debut

All through rookie camp, all through the early stages of Training Camp, there has been one name that has intrigued many a Flyers fan and left the group referred to as “Hockey’s most intimidating” searching for glimpses of this particular individual.

The Flyers may have found a diamond in the rough in "Bob"

If you have been able to make the trip to Vorhees over the past week, chances are you’ve probably seen him. Chances also are that you struggle mightily to quickly pronounce his name when talking about him. However, if, like myself, all you’ve done over the past couple weeks is read about Sergei Bobrovsky, then last night presented the first opportunity to see the man with all the hype attempt to live up to it in his Philadelphia Flyers debut.

25 minutes of shutout hockey coupled with leading the Flyers to a shootout victory in their preseason opener certainly laid the foundation for the Bobrovsky fan frenzy for at least the foreseeable future.

While Michael Leighton got the nod last night as the Flyers began their preseason slate against the New Jersey Devils, all the buzz on the message boards, blogs, and Twitter was centered around a simple question: “When are we going to see this Bobrovsky kid?” Fans got their wish as the puck dropped to begin the third period as the 22-year-old Russian ‘tender finally made his first appearance in a National Hockey League game wearing a Flyers uniform. Despite the fact that “Bob” didn’t see a shot for almost the first nine minutes he was in the game, he was solid when called upon in the third frame, stopping all five shots he faced, as well as turning away the two shots thrown his way in overtime. Jason Arnott muscled a wrister by Bobrovsky in the shootout, but the rookie was otherwise perfect and stopped every shot he faced.

Today, on CSNPhilly.com, Sarah Baicker has more on the Russian netminder who’s hard-to-pronounce name is suddenly flowing freely off many of the franchise’s fans tongues. She talks about his performance in last night’s victory, as well as his well-documented – albeit incredible – athleticism and quickness and even some interesting superstitions the young goaltender has. To learn more about this seemingly budding star right before our eyes this preseason, give Sarah’s article a look.

Check it out here: FLYERS’ BOBROVSKY HELPS STEAL WIN IN NHL DEBUT

07
Sep
10

FLYERS: Player Report Cards – Michael Leighton

NAME: Michael Leighton

POSITION: Goaltender

Regular Season Statistics: 26 Games Started – 16 Wins, 5 Losses, 2 OTLs. 2.48 GAA, .918 SV %, 1 Shutout.

Analysis: Michael Leighton was just your typical, run of the mill journeyman goaltender who latched onto a team this past season at the right time and was virtually the largest reason they made a postseason push. Happens all the time, right? Wrong. When Leights joined the Flyers early in this season, the team’s goaltending carousel was already in full spinning motion. Ray Emery had already suffered his first setback of the season, and Brian Boucher was struggling with a lacerated finger that kept him out of the goal. In walks Leighton, and all he proceeded to do was steal the show, and net career bests in virtually every single statistical category that a goaltender can register numbers in. After previously beginning this season as Cam Ward’s back-up for the lowly Carolina Hurricanes, Leighton was waived and it was at that time that the Flyers claimed his rights and stuck him in goal. Both the Flyers and Leighton never looked back. Up until a freak high ankle sprain against Nashville ended his regular season in mid-March, Leighton was arguably the Flyers MVP the entire second half of the season.

Postseason Statistics: 13 Games Started – 8 Wins, 3 Losses. 2.46 GAA, .916 SV %, 3 Shutouts.

Analysis: Leights returned from his high ankle sprain to see that his starting goaltender position had been won over by Brian Boucher, and that Boosh was doing fairly well in between the pipes as the 33-year-old netminder guided the Flyers to a four games to one series win over the Devils. However, in round two, both the Flyers and Boucher faltered, and fell into a 3-0 hole against the Boston Bruins. Boosh was able to help the Flyers to victory in Game four to stave off elimination, but in Game Five, Boosh’s series ended when he sprained his MCL during a scramble in the goal-mouth. Enter Michael Leighton. Once again, Leighton stepped in the crease and never looked back, helping the Flyers make history and erase the 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 series win and a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals. From there, Leighton recorded three shutouts – tying Bernie Parent’s playoff record for a single series – as the Flyers won their first Eastern Conference crown since 1997. While he was shaky at times during the Cup Final, there’s no doubt that Leighton was the main reason the Flyers had gotten there.

FINAL GRADE: B+

Reasoning: Many people are saying that we have already seen Michael Leighton’s best effort, and he simply can’t get better than what we saw last season. While I don’t necessarily disagree with the notion that his success was unprecedented, I do disagree that the performance Leights turned in last spring was, while remarkable, the end of the line as far as his capability is concerned. Instead, I think that Leighton will use all the doubters as inspiration, and really work hard this off-season towards putting together a respectable campaign in 2010-2011. He was great when the Flyers needed him to be this past season, and when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture, he ultimately took the Flyers from 29th place out of 30 in the entire National Hockey League to just a mere two wins away from the Stanley Cup in the same season. Will the doubters be able to argue against that fact? I strongly doubt it.

03
Aug
10

FLYERS: The Leight Show, Season Two

Flyers fans, get ready. Barring some incredibly unforeseen cirucmstance, Michael Leighton will be the starting goaltender for the Philadelphia Flyers come opening night in Pittsburgh on October 7th. That became closer to official today, when CSNPhilly’s Tim Panaccio reported that Marty Turco told him that the Flyers had told the veteran goaltender they were “no longer interested” in pursuing his services.

However, the question that really needs to be asked about this situation is simply: Is Leighton starting in goal for the Flyers really all that bad?

Never before in an off-season have I personally seen the lack of complete support behind the two goaltenders of the respective conference champions as far as returning to their teams is concerned. This year, it’s been rather public, and rather crazy, to be honest. Before you read the remainder of my post, please understand this: I know that both Michael Leighton and Antti Niemi were not amongst the top five, let alone ten, goaltenders last season. Still, Leighton came off the injury shelf to lead the Flyers to their first Eastern Conference Championship since 1997, and Niemi helped end over 40 years of Stanley Cup suffering in Chicago. So, what gives? Niemi was just awarded $2.75 million in an arbitration hearing with Chicago – something that has apparently caused the ‘Hawks to walk away from the Finn and instead purse Marty Turco, and Leighton inked a 2-year deal with the Flyers in the beginning of free agency. While Niemi has yet to officially get signed by Chicago, or anyone else for that matter, the Flyers have brought back the masked man who lead them just two wins from a Stanley Cup last season.

It's Leights' goal this season

Like I said, Flyers fans, get ready for another season of “The Leight Show”.

Michael Leighton needs no introduction in Flyers circles, or any NHL circles, for that matter. A career NHL/AHL journeyman and back-up, Leighton has played for the Chicago Blackhawks (two seasons), Nashville Predators (one game), Carolina Hurricanes (three seasons), and the Flyers, in a couple different stints over the years. His stats aren’t impressive by any means, with 34 wins in 91 career starts, a goals-against of 2.94 and a below-average save percentage of .902. He never was considered a starter-type by, well, anyone. That was until he was thrust into the front seat on the Flyers goaltending carousel last season and promptly pressed the big, red “STOP” button, with #49 still in front of the pack.

The storybook season started with a 5-2 win in his first Flyers start of this past season against Tampa Bay on December 23, and ended with the unfortunate goal-that-should-not-be-spoken-about on June 9. In between, however, was when we saw the real Michael Leighton. Don’t believe me? Consider this: what current NHL “Journeyman back-up” would honestly have carried a team that was so badly sunk, in such a pressure-packed and championship-hungry hockey market, out of the darkness and back into the light of significance? And what back-up would then be able to hop off the IR, into an elimination game for his team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, on the road, in BOSTON, nursing a 1-0 lead, and be able to not only let that score hold up, but proceed to carry his team to the Finals, making a bit of club history in the process? The answer is, as a matter of fact, no one. That’s because something has dawned on me since the end of this last season.

Michael Leighton isn’t a back-up.

Say what you will about his weaknesses: we know he has a below-average five hole, and he isn’t the quickest goaltender in the league, but if this past season is any indication, Leights’ positives far outweigh the negatives. He started 26 regular season games in the Orange and Black in 2009-’10, winning 16 of them, while posting a solid .918 save percentage and recording a fourth of his career total in shutouts (1) in that timeframe. Of course, it goes without saying that his three shutouts in the Eastern Conference Finals against Montreal were not only worthy of a chapter in the Flyers’ record books, but also left Leighton with more career playoffs shutouts (3) than he had career playoff starts coming into this season. Obviously, it’s easy to say that Leighton caught lightning in a bottle upon joining the Flyers and was fortunate enough to be surrounded by a solid team that off-set any glaring holes in his game – for the most part – during he and their collective remarkable run. It’s also easy to say that I may be a bit off my rocker because perhaps more desired goaltenders for the Flyers have either been scared out of their pants by the idea of playing in a pressure situation for less money and bolted to Siberia (Evgeni Nabokov), or thought they should be paid more than an initial Flyers offer and are now struggling to find employment (Marty Turco). While both of these are legitimate reasons, I want you to know that I’m under the complete belief that Michael Leighton was the real deal last year, and will continue to be great this upcoming season.

For one, Leights now knows that the starting goaltending job is his to lose. There won’t be any controversy heading into this season, as Leighton was the main netminder down the stretch last season so it should remain the same this year. However, while many would consider that a situation where Leighton may take his foot off the gas pedal, I’d say it’s far from it. In fact, it’s a reason for Leighton to push down even harder on that gas pedal and propel the Flyers to those two more wins that eluded them last season and bring glory back to this city. There are still plenty of people out there in Flyerdom and the hockey world that strongly believe Leighton will be a gigantic bust this season. They’ll point to it as easily the Flyers’ biggest question mark heading into the 2010-’11 year. He’ll be playing with a chip on his shoulder, you can count on that. And with a defense that (if healthy), quite frankly, is superb, Leights will have a little less stress on him as far as shots on goal are concerned night in and night out. Despite the potential for less shots, there’s still going to be a definite amount of pressure on him, that’s for sure. After all, he is a goaltender in (gasp!) Philadelphia. But why not believe? For crying out loud, this is the same franchise that once had names like Roussell, Cechmanek, and Snow manning the pipes. Give Leighton a chance, people. If anything, for the joyous run of emotions he gave us last season, he’s earned it.

Who’s ready for Season Two of “The Leight Show”?

30
Jun
10

FLYERS: Leighton Talks with Flyers Heat Up

Leights may be back as the Flyers' #1 guy next season

Tim Panaccio tweeted earlier today that the Flyers are looking to come to terms with goaltender Michael Leighton on an agreement hopefully as early as today so that the goaltender can once again stand in between the pipes for the Flyers next season.

In 26 regular seasons starts with the Flyers last season after being claimed off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes, Leighton went 16-5-2 with a 2.48 Goals Against Average, and .918 Save Percentage with one shutout. He backstopped the Flyers to within two wins of claiming the franchises first Stanley Cup in over 35 years last season. It’s unclear as to whether or not Leighton is going to be the Flyers’ #1 guy in net next season, or whether the Flyers will look for another goaltender. If it is Leighton, look for the Flyers to make a huge push when free agency begins at noon tomorrow for one of the top-rated defensemen this off-season in Paul Martin, Sergei Gonchar, or Anton Volchenkov.

Panaccio also just tweeted that the Flyers have interest in both Zybnek Michalek and Kurtis Foster, both slated to hit the free agent market as defensemen tomorrow and having played for the Phoenix Coyotes and Tampa Bay Lightning last season repectively.

11
Jun
10

FLYERS: Stanley Cup Final Series Recap

The incredible run of the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers came to a crushing halt Wednesday night on the Wachovia Center ice. Patrick Kane slipped an overtime marker past Michael Leighton and the Blackhawks claimed their first Stanley Cup since 1961 – leaving the Flyers 0 for their last 6 in Stanley Cup Final appearances. It’s a tough pill to swallow for the Flyers and their fans, and while the wound is still fresh today, it is healing slightly a little better than it was yesterday. The Flyers enjoyed a remarkable ride en route to the franchise’s first Cup Final appearance since 1997. As a seven seed, they knocked off the two-seeded New Jersey Devils in five games in round one, made history when they came back to eliminate the Boston Bruins in seven games in round two, and dispatched the Montreal Canadiens in five games in the Eastern Conference Final to claim hold of their first Prince of Wales trophy in 13 years. This was a team that was 14th in the Eastern Conference at one point this season, and made a coaching switch midway through the year that started with the team losing seven of it’s first nine under Peter Laviolette. However, they bought into his system, they kept believing, and now they are going to be able to raise a banner at the Wachovia Center next season. Although it may not be the ultimate goal, I think we can all agree that “2010 Eastern Conference Champions” is pretty sweet.

Now, onto my series recap. Obviously, all the points here will be Flyers related, so when my Series MVP isn’t a ‘Hawk, don’t get all crazy on me. I know this, and I did it purposely. I’ve broken it up into three categories: 1) Series MVP, 2) Series Turning Point, 3) Why the Flyers Lost. I left out the “What has to change for the next series” category, because, well, there is no ‘next series’. That is, until, next postseason….

1) SERIES MVP: Danny Briere, Right Wing.

Many will argue Ville Leino should be here, and many others will say Scott Hartnell was more deserving. However, in my opinion, it was the third part of that line that was easily the most important – and certainly the most valuable. Danny Briere finished the postseason as the leading point scorer in all of the National Hockey League. He had twelve points in the six game series against Chicago – easily making him the highest scoring player in the series, and finished the playoffs with 12 goals and 18 assists. While many – myself included – look for more from Briere in the regular season because of his gigantic contract, there’s certainly no denying that he earns his paycheck when the year matters most: the playoffs. His speed and skill were heavily on display throughout the entire postseason, and I think that despite his regular season struggles, Briere has completely endured himself to the Flyers’ fan base with his postseason performance. He made the most of his first career appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, and let’s hope it’s in the cards for him to make a few more return trips there in the Orange and Black.

2) SERIES TURNING POINT: Game Four’s Final Minutes.

I understand the reasoning as to why Game Five may be many people’s turning point for this series, but it was not. Instead, this series took a turn for the worst for the Flyers with less than ten minutes remaining in the Flyers’ 5-3 Game Four victory over Chicago. Sure, the Flyers won the game, and ultimately evened up the series at two games a piece, but that wasn’t the bigger story. The more important, and far more telling fact of Game Four was that in the period’s final minutes, ‘Hawks coach Joel Quenneville switched up his lines, and Chicago absolutely dominated the play. The Flyers couldn’t clear the puck from the defensive zone if their lives depended on it, and Chicago smelled blood with their newfound momentum. They carried that same strategy that came up just short in Game Four into Game Five, and ran the Flyers literally out of Chicago and on the next flight back to Philadelphia. It was certainly a much tighter game in Game Six – hence the score being tied after sixty minutes and heading into overtime – but with their new line combinations, Chicago still dominated heavily and controlled the play for long durations of the game. The new lines gave Chicago new life, and ultimately a Stanley Cup. We can thank the furious push from the ‘Hawks in Game Four for re-installing the confidence needed to be successful in the playoffs and tight situations. It’s the reason there’s a parade in Chicago today.

3) WHY THE FLYERS LOST: Antti Niemi was (slightly) better than Michael Leigthon/Brian Boucher.

Game One: 5 goals, Game Two: 1 goal, Game Three: 4 goals, Game Four: 5 goals, Game Five 4 goals, Game Six: 3 goals. Antti Niemi was not magnificent. In fact, most of the time – aside from Game Two – he wasn’t even consistently all that good. However, he managed to somehow be just a little bit better than the Flyers goaltenders Michael Leighton and Brian Boucher. Boosh relieved Leighton twice in tight, high scoring games in Chicago (1 & 5), but took home the loss in each contest. Niemi was never pulled, although no one would have questioned Quenneville had he done it at specific points in the series. Instead, the Finnish Fortress was just simply OK. And, with how the goaltending went in this series, OK was “good enough”. Niemi made two critical stops in Game Six to Leighton’s one. Leighton’s toe save on Jonathan Toews with under six minutes to go paved the way for Scott Hartnell’s goal that tied the game in regulation. However, Niemi’s breakaway save on Simon Gagne early in the second, and his acrobatic flop to stop Jeff Carter in the waning minutes of the third period were truly the game savers. In the end, I must reluctantly say, it was Niemi>Leighton/Boucher.




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