In Need of Relief: Michael Leighton or Sergei Bobrovsky?

With the recent scratching of Sergei Bobrovsky in favor of Michael Leighton, a lot has been made about who is better "coming off the bench". Set aside for a moment the (completely reasonable) objection of "if we're worried about the backup goalie playing, the Flyers have much bigger problems" and let's look into this.

Rather than argue over the completely subjective - and almost certain inability to ever know for sure - argument of who is more "mentally capable" of coming into a game cold, let's look at how each of these goalies has done when coming off the bench after the starting goalie has left the game.

Not surprisingly, neither goalie has done this often at all, certainly not often enough to properly judge their ability in these situations. As if this weren't enough to prove that anybody claiming one goalie is "better suited" for a backup role, let's look at the numbers anyway.

GP SA SV Sv% ES SA ES SV ES Sv%
Michael Leighton 8 109 95 0.872 75 68 0.907
Sergei Bobrovsky 2 39 34 0.872 28 24 0.857

Hey, small sample sizes! We essentially have three games worth of data for Leighton and one game worth of data for Bobrovsky. And what does it show? That neither Leighton nor Bobrovsky are better suited to a backup role, since they stopped the same percentage of shots they faced. The even-strength numbers sure look like a large gap, but it's a difference of... less than 1.5 saves.

So which goalie is better prepared mentally for a backup role? Neither. Because nobody knows. It's an argument based solely on opinions, with no real evidence - certainly none with any predictive abilities - supporting either side.

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