Grading the 2010 Flyers: Brian Boucher

CHICAGO - JUNE 06: Brian Boucher #33 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks on in Game Five of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on June 6, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Grade: B
09/10 Salary: $925,000
10/11 Cap Hit: $925,000
10/11 Salary: $925,000
Depth Chart Ranking: #2 Goaltender

[ Hockey Reference Player Page ]

2009 - Brian Boucher 33

Ah, Brian.  We all knew I was saving the best for last, and here we are.  What a long, strange year it has been.  From the elation at hearing of your signing to seeing you step onto the Fenway Park grass (tear), we - maybe just me - were eagerly awaiting your return to the Flyers.  Unfortunately, it took us 16 games to see you play.  And that wasn't so good.

But really, Boucher was put in a tough spot - sitting for nearly a month and then facing his old team, who just so happened to be a pretty high-potent offense.  It would then be almost another month until Boucher played, but this would go a lot better - even if that first goal was just... awful. That doesn't matter. 

Even when Boucher went 2-6-1 after Ray Emery went down, that number is awfully misleading.  He gave up a grand total of 7 goals in 4 of those losses.  If you can't score 2 goals a game, you aren't going to win.  We don't need to go over all of that again, but those numbers at the top of the page don't reflect what Brian Boucher actually did.  No, we already examined why Boucher's stats were as bad as they were - the team didn't play (read, score) in front of him like they did in front of any other goalie.

While that likely defined Boucher's season, it isn't what everyone will remember.  No, there were three moments from this season that fans will remember for years to come.

We'll go in chronological order because that just makes the most sense.

#1 April 6, 2010 @ Toronto (click for BSH recap)

Brian Boucher earns his 100th career win and 17th career shutout in a 2-0 victory.  But that wasn't what made this night so memorable.  No, what made this night memorable would be this:

"That may have saved a playoff spot!"  I'd love to editorialize even more, but there's nothing to add.  That save speaks for itself.

#2 April 11, 2010 vs. NY Rangers (click for BSH recap)

While Boucher made one hell of a save (making up for his own mistake) two days earlier, here is what might be the defining moment of the year, especially since History Was Made:


And yes, I was there. Thanks again beatniche!

#3 May 1, 2010 @ Boston (Click for BSH recap)

"Tremendously tremendous by Brian Boucher!"  Lame exclamation or not, that sequence still gets my heart racing.  When the entire team is crumbling, collapsing, and flailing around him - just like the regular season - Boucher hung in there as long as he could, giving his team a chance to win.  But just like in the regular season, it wasn't enough.

Then Ryan Parent would come along and the rest is history.

The point here is that Boucher was widely criticized during the season - both rightly (Minnesota game anyone?) and wrongly (the combined score in four of Boucher's losses was 5-0) - and largely forgotten once Michael Leighton came aboard.  But Boucher won 3 of his last 4 games to get the team into the playoffs.  He then won 4 of 5 against New Jersey.  And he got two wins against Boston.

Brian Boucher came in to be a backup goaltender.  He did that job and he did it well, even if the team didn't succeed in front of him most of the year.  Then, when the entire team's fate laid in his hands, he won 7 of 9 games to go from possibly missing the playoffs to the second round.  For as much credit as Leighton deserves for saving the Flyers season, Boucher deserves just as much for rescuing it from the brink.

Now he just has to go fight for his job. Again.

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