Well, this was a lot faster than we're used to. Unlike the standard "day-to-day" progressing into long-term injury talk in a month, Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren today confirmed that Michael Leighton is officially out for at least 2 months before Brian Boucher even starts a game.
While there is no word yet whether Leighton will be going on LTIR, one can safely assume he will be with him out 8-10 weeks. For those wondering, if the 8 weeks is accurate, Leighton will be ready to return on May 13th. Not sure exactly where that is in the playoffs, but at that point, forget about it.
The Flyers goaltending situation is well-known at this point, but with Ray Emery already done for the season, this injury - likely ending Michael Leighton's season as well - leaves the Flyers in a pretty desperate situation. Beginning tonight, the Flyers have 7 games in 11 days. Their first, second, and fourth string goalies are hurt. There is very little good news here.
However! If Johan Backlund's groin injury is as mild as we are told, the Flyers shouldn't be too bad. But it still wouldn't hurt for Paul Holmgren to call Manny Fernandez and tell him to put the donut down.
More after the jump
Before moving on, let's first say goodbye to Michael Leighton's 2009-2010 season.
|2009 - Michael Leighton||34||1799||17||9||85||2.83||899||814||.905||1|
We looked at Leighton about a month ago, so there's really no need to go back into that. The journeyman netminder deserves a lot of the credit for turning the Flyers' season around in December, and he played exceptionally well for the Flyers. But his season is over.
That means the Flyers' will go as far as Brian Boucher allows them to. Like I said when talking about Leighton for the guys over at On the Forecheck, the team's hopes were never dependent upon their goalie to steal them games. It's what was asked of Ray Emery when he signed, it's what should have been asked of Michael Leighton should he have started in the playoffs, and it's what should now be asked of Brian Boucher: provide competent goaltending and let the team in front of you win the games.
The problem now is, who will be next in line behind Brian Boucher? Since anybody the Flyers sign would be ineligible to play in the playoffs, there are really only two goalies even worth mentioning: Johan Backlund and Jeremy Duchesne. While it would be nice to sign Manny Fernandez so Boucher can get some rest on back-to-back nights, he hasn't played all year and is unlikely to be ready to step in at the NHL level. Plus, why sign somebody just to play about 3 games? So, we'll start with the guy who will be wearing a Flyers jersey tonight in Dallas - Jeremy Duchesne.
The 23-year old former 4th-round pick doesn't have a lot to go on. He has only played 4 AHL games in his career, two of which came this month. He made his ECHL debut in 07-08, putting up average numbers (2.97 gaa, .903 s%) in 31 games. This season, he had a 3.20 gaa and .904 s% in 19 games before being recalled to the Phantoms. There isn't much to know about him, except for the fact that he is basically coming straight from the ECHL to the NHL. And he's already balding. But hey, maybe he'll be the Kyle Kendrick of 2007. Or not.
Because of this, everyone should be hoping that Johan Backlund's groin heals quickly.
Backlund was signed this past summer by the Flyers at the ripe age of 28 and brought to North America. While his stats in Adirondack aren't too impressive (2.79 gaa and .906 s%), neither are the Phantoms. By all accounts, he's been phenomenal for the Phantoms. While he wasn't particularly sharp in his preseason action with the Flyers, he had never seen any live game action on this side of the Atlantic before.
I wish I could show you some video of Backlund's play, but the best I can do is send you over to these game highlights. There are a few other games worth looking at, but you can't tell much in these. It's safe to say though, that Backlund is the second best goalie the Flyers have healthy now.