Flyers goalie Michael Leighton hurts back, time to worry in Philadelphia?


michaelleighton2.jpgLost in last night’s game action, Flyers goalie Michael Leighton left last night’s preseason game against the Maple Leafs after playing 65 minutes worth of game action with a strained back. With Leighton having played through most of the game, missing out only on the shootout, speculation is picking up amongst Flyers faithful about how serious things could be.’s Frank Seravalli gets word from Flyers GM Paul Holmgren about what’s up with Leighton’s back including one stunning revelation.

“We’ll see how he is [today],” Holmgren said. “But we probably really won’t know what’s going on until we get back to Philadelphia and get him checked out.”

While Holmgren is optimistic that Leighton will be fine by next week some time, he also revealed that this isn’t the first time Leighton suffered the injury; he just re-aggravated it last night.

Leighton apparently strained his back this summer while exercising. It was unclear whether he suffered the injury before or after signing a 2-year, $3.1 million deal on June 30.

“He had some issues in the summer from working out that kind of flared up on him,” Holmgren said. “But since training camp started, no, it hasn’t been an issue. That’s why we’re hoping that it’s a short-term thing.”

So, let’s get this straight. The Flyers re-signed Leighton after a great playoff run, then found out either before or after the free agent signing period began and still opted to not make absolutely sure they were going to have more-than-capable goaltending this season.

That sound you hear is coming from Flyers fans bashing their head into the wall yet again when it comes to the team’s puzzling personnel decisions regarding goaltending. Travis Hughes at Broad Street Hockey doesn’t trust the Flyers as far as he can throw them when it comes to discussing injuries.

Seravalli notes that if it’s causing Leighton problems after just three periods of game action, are we in for something long-term here? I tend to agree with his skepticism, if nothing else. After all, how many times has an injury been downplayed off the bat by the Flyers, only to find out later that yeah, it was indeed something serious.

I don’t trust what the Flyers have to say when it comes to injuries anymore, and this is no exception.

All of a sudden, the Flyers missed attempt at landing Marty Turco in the off-season and seeming lack of contingency plan starts to look even more questionable if Leighton is going to be dealing with a potentially nagging injury all year. The Flyers are only rolling with Brian Boucher as Leighton’s backup and while there are a couple of intriguing young guys waiting in the wings in Johan Backlund and Sergei Bobrovsky, for a team that made the Stanley Cup Finals last year to think they can get away with that kind of motley crew in goal is daring if not just plain stupid.

Then again, if there’s anything that’s been an undeniable truth in life over the years for the Flyers it’s questionable goaltending. Death, taxes, and Garth Snow starting Stanley Cup Finals games. Perhaps Flyers fans are just numb to all of this by now.

Stepan to miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs

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Derek Stepan is out 4-6 weeks with broken ribs, the New York Rangers announced today.

Stepan was hurt Friday on a controversial hit by Boston’s Matt Beleskey. The Bruins’ forward did not receive any supplemental discipline for the check, despite admitting it was “maybe…a little bit late.”

At any rate it’s a big loss for the Rangers, who suddenly find themselves on a three-game losing streak. Considering the timeline, New York could be without one of its top centers for 12-18 games, give or take.

The Rangers host Carolina tonight.

Related: Yep, Alain Vigneault went there — ‘I remember Aaron Rome in this building’

Price to miss minimum six weeks, so no Winter Classic for him

Carey Price,
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Carey Price will miss a minimum of six weeks with a lower-body injury, the Montreal Canadiens announced today.

That means Price will miss the Winter Classic against the Bruins on New Year’s Day. The 30-year-old goalie has only appeared in 12 games this season.

On the bright side, the reigning Hart Trophy winner will not require surgery. And considering the Habs have already built up a 13-point playoff cushion in the standings, well, if something like this were going to happen during the season, now is as good a time as any.

Related: The latest on Price’s injury

Report: Jets offered Byfuglien for Hamonic, Isles said no

Dustin Byfuglien

If Travis Hamonic could choose one team to be traded to, he’d probably choose Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Islanders defenseman wants to be closer to his family, and his family is from Manitoba. Hamonic already owns a condo in Winnipeg.

So far, though, the Jets and Islanders haven’t been able to work out a deal. The Jets have three right-shot defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers who could, theoretically, be swapped for Hamonic, also a right shot.

“I think the Islanders were offered Byfuglien and they said no,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said this morning on Sportsnet 960 (audio), per Today’s Slapshot. “And I understand why, because Byfuglien’s got no term left.

“I think they’d love to have Trouba, but the Jets aren’t really there to do it. Myers, if it’s happened – I can’t say for sure it has or hasn’t – I’m not sure that’s the deal either team really wants to make, to be perfectly honest.”

Byfuglien is a pending unrestricted free agent who’s expected to cash in big-time on his next deal. The 30-year-old may not be the most disciplined player, but at his best, he’s an absolute force on the back end.

That the Isles reportedly said no to Byfuglien shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given his contract uncertainty. However, it does make one wonder about his future in Winnipeg. Remember that the salary cap is not expected to go up by much, and the Jets have another pending UFA in captain Andrew Ladd, plus a couple of key RFAs in Trouba and Mark Scheifele.

While it’s never easy to tell what GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is thinking, the big question with Byfuglien and the Jets may end up being when, not if, they part ways. Will it be after the season or before the Feb. 29 trade deadline?

Preds still haven’t found their scoring touch

Mike Fisher

The Nashville Predators got off to a relatively good start this season, but something seems to have happened to their offense over the last six games.

Prior to Nov. 20, the Preds had only been shut out once in their first 17 games. Since then, they’ve been blanked three times and have just six goals in their last six contests.

If you remove Mike Fisher from the equation, the numbers are even more dreadful.

Fisher’s scored three of those six goals, while Filip Forsberg, Shea Weber, James Neal and Mike Ribeiro have none.

After Saturday’s 4-1 loss to Buffalo , here’s what coach Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean: “I thought we could’ve had more gas, to be honest with you. The energy just wasn’t there; maybe the second period had something to do with that or the road trip, which was a long trip. I’m not making any excuses, but I think when we play at a higher tempo that’s when we’re at our best, and we had more to push in that area tonight.”

The first game back home after a long road trip is typically a difficult one for most teams, so we’ll see how the Predators respond on Tuesday night when they host Arizona.