You’re (probably) aware that the Philadelphia Flyers already made the decision to start Michael Leighton instead of Brian Boucher for what could be their last playoff game of 2009-10 tonight. So, on some level, the “drama” is gone from the debate – although the quiet pro-Boucher minority might come out of the woodwork if Leighton struggles.
Still, we decided to poll PHT readers to see if the hockey public agreed with the choice to make Leighton the starter. The results, as you can see below (click to enlarge), are staggeringly in favor of Leighton. Really, I’m impressed by just how huge the gulf is between the two goalies.
Now, let’s take a look at Leighton and Boucher’s stats, side-by-side.
First, Michael Leighton’s playoff production (via ESPN)
Next, Brian Boucher’s playoff production: (via ESPN as well)
So Boucher played in 12 games and started 10 while Leighton played in 13 games and started 12.
My viewpoint of an “average” start is a save percentage of at least 90 percent. Boucher’s been over 90 percent in five games, with two shutouts and went 6-6 (although he received two losses during relief duty in the Stanley Cup finals, which seems kind of unfair). Leighton hit the 90-or-better mark in 8 games, with three shutouts and went 8-2.
Overall, I don’t think it’s that tough of a decision. Maybe it would be a little spicier if I took a “devil’s advocate” stance and said Boucher would be the starter, but I’ll leave that to someone else.
That’s not to take anything away from Boucher, though. If nothing else, Boucher showed that he has a place in the NHL and re-affirmed the fact he’s among the league’s most reliable backups. It’s pretty clear to me, though, that he should be just that tonight: a backup.