A first place team plays worse hockey than their minor league affiliate (who've won 28 out of 75 games thus far.)
If I'm Peter Laviolette, Leights starts the next two games.
As I said in my last post, having him on the big-boy roster, if nothing else, will show Bouchrovsky that:
--they are in fact, expendable..
--that there is a reason why an undrafted rookie and a 34 year old verteran are making less combined than any other goaltending tandem in the league (as well as less than most starters alone.)..
--that this is getting real..
--that YES, our defense is playing TERRIBLY but at the end of the day, a goaltender has to tend the goal.
And, in all actuality, I'm a big fan of loyalty. There is a huge, unwritten rule in sports that states: A starter won't lose his job to injury (the only other time i can think of is when Drew Bledsoe lost his starting QB job to Tom Brady.) And ultimately, this is what happened with Leights. And this kills me so.
Despite his solid play for a terrible Phantoms team, we waited until the absolute last minute to call him up. And now, he'll probably start.
And he should. We have nothing to lose. We've already clinched. We're probably not getting the one seed back from Washington. We were already probably gonna lose the division with the play we're all seeing now.
It's either going to be a win-win, or a lose-lose.
Best case, Leights plays like he did last year... we win the last two and take back the conference and head into the playoffs with a team rejuvenated by the circumstances.
Worst case, His back really isn't up to par and we lost the last two... fall to fourth and are forced to play the first round against Tampa Bay, who happen to enjoy beating us in 7 games on goals by former Flyers (see: Fedotenko, Ruslan; 2003; ECF; Gagne, Simon; Downie, Steve; Jones, Randy.)
At the end of the day, it shouldn't matter who is in net. We supposedly have the deepest offense and the deepest defense in the league. It's time to show it. Our goalie should be getting enough support that one soft goal doesn't rattle him and lead to another.
As a partially related aside, the team is trying to be too pretty with their play. Leino especially. Don't get me wrong, he has the talent to do that, but not when we're losing 5-2 to Ottawa. The whole team needs to simplify their game.
If they don't, they're going home far earlier than they should. Everyone says this team is close with each other.. if true, that should be motivation enough to right all the wrongs. Because, whether we like it or not, this is going to be the last playoffs (as a Flyer) for some of these guys (Shelley, Carcillo, Leino, O'Donnell, Powe, Bouch, Leights, Hartnell are all possibilities to be moved.)
We know that hockey is where we live, where we can best meet and overcome pain and wrong and death.. Life is just a place where we spend time between games.