(I was already writing this before Emery was scratched for tonight's game in Edmonton, but now it's even timelier, I suppose).
There are two stereotypes that have stuck with the Flyers for decades: constant goonery and constant goalie controversies. And since there has been little goonery to speak of recently, let's turn our attention to the latter of the two phenomena.
There has been a decided lack of balance in the starting goaltending assignments throughout this entire season. A quick refresher of the twists and turns that have already taken place this season for the Flyers:
Ray Emery got 18 of the first 20 decisions of the season.
- That opening Emery era was followed shortly thereafter by a Boucher era, in which Boucher took 13 of the next 15 decisions.
- On the back of an injury to Emery and some poor play by the team, the Boucher era was followed by 10 of the next 11 decisions going to newcomer Michael Leighton.
- With Emery healthy again, Leighton was put on the shelf after a 4-0 loss to Toronto. Emery has now gotten 8 of the last 8 decisions.
There's no sign from on high that this fourth phase of Flyer goaltending that sees Emery firmly in control is going to end any time soon. But is that wise?
Before Michael Leighton was relegated to door opener, he compiled an incredible 8-1-1 record, with a 92.0% save percentage and a 2.39 GAA. But he hasn't been given a single chance to play since his first regulation loss, until tonight's game in Edmonton for which Emery is not even in the lineup.
Ray Emery has been pretty good since taking over. He's gone 5-3-0, with a 90.2% save percentage and a 2.12 GAA. And he's gotten two shutouts, including in his most recent game. There's been some iffy rebound control, but the numbers have been incredibly solid. But by no means is Emery so hot that some rest would be detrimental to the teams chances, especially with a backup goaltender on the bench who has won eight of his ten decisions.
Further to the point, the first era of nearly non-stop Emery starts was only halted because of injury. The injury occurred under Stevens' watch, but hopefully Laviolette looked back far enough to know that overworking a goaltender like that can't be good in the long run, especially with only 28 games left in the regular season.
My position on this is pretty simple: Leighton should be seeing a lot more ice time than none, which is what he's been getting lately.
Agree? Vote in the poll below, and articulate any and all other feelings on the matter in the comments...