Will it be Leighton or Boucher in Game 2?

Leighton.jpgBefore the Flyers hold their practice this afternoon and we get a
hint of what Laviolette may do with his goaltenders in Game 2 — or we
aren’t told anything at all — I figured we could go ahead and debate
whether the Flyers should turn back to Michael Leighton.

Leighton
allowed five goals on 20 shots, and while he certainly isn’t to
completely blame for the loss he wasn’t just a victim of some horrible
defense by the Flyers. He certainly didn’t look like the confident
goaltender who recorded three shutouts against the Canadiens, and
resembled a goaltender without much overall experience making his first
start in the Stanley Cup finals.

The Flyers haven’t faced a team
with the offensive firepower of the Chicago Blackhawks, and it certainly
showed. So now we ask whether the Flyers should turn back to Leighton
in Game 2 after he was pulled, or should the Flyers stick with veteran
Brian Boucher?

Boucher is the veteran, and he’s experienced when
it comes to the way the game amps up the deeper you get in the playoffs.
Leighton appeared unprepared for how fast the game would be, how the
nerves would affect himself and the team. Boucher looked good in relief,
despite allowing the winning goal and you have to wonder if sticking
with Boucher would give the Flyers some stability after such an out of
control effort in Game 1.

Still, teams are generally hesitant to
flat out switch goaltenders in the middle of the Stanley Cup finals.
Would going right back to Boucher, after it was the entire team and not
just Leighton that had the bad game, be sending the wrong message to the
team?

There’s also the fact that teams sometimes just play
differently in front of one goaltender over another. Perhaps having
Boucher in net will calm the Flyers, especially with how the defense
performed in Game 1. Still, Leighton was the goaltender that played so
well in the series against the Canadiens and you wonder if he deserves
at least a chance to acquit himself after a poor showing in the opening
game of the series.

You have to think that Laviolette will
start Leighton in Game 2, but keep him on a very short leash. Still, you
wonder if the Blackhawks were right, saying before the series started
that they thought Leighton played so well because of the defense in
front of him and not because of his particularly strong play.

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    Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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    The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

    San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

    The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

    Here’s the goal:

    Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

    Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

    Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

    Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

    The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

    Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

    The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

    Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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    It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

    After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

    In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

    You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

    It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:

    Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

    It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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    You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

    After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

    “Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

    “I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

    After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

    “We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

    And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

    Related:

    Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

    Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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    Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

    Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

    Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

    “Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

    To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

    This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.