Back surgery will sideline Michael Leighton 6-8 weeks; can Sergei Bobrovsky steal top job?

Thumbnail image for prongerandleighton.jpgTough injury-related news out of Philadelphia today: the Flyers just announced that goalie Michael Leighton will need surgery on his back. That procedure will keep Leighton out six to eight weeks according to the team.

Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren told philadelphiaflyers.com that goaltender Michael Leighton will have back surgery on Monday, Oct. 11 at Methodist in Philadelphia.

“The procedure, a partial discectomy, will be performed by Dr. Alex Vacarro,” said Holmgren. “Michael will be out six to eight weeks.”

You have to wonder if even a two-month window is a little bit conservative for something as serious as back surgery, so either way, the team shouldn’t expect Leighton to be back anytime soon.

Thumbnail image for bobrovskystealsshow.jpgA Flyers fan (or outside observer) could look at the situation a few ways. One negative approach is to say that the Flyers are forever doomed in net, as the team went through a ridiculous carousel last season because of injuries and didn’t even wait for the season to begin the pattern this year.

Of course, on the other hand, this gives Sergei Bobrovsky a very real chance to earn himself a spot with the team. It’s way too early to say that the rookie is an “answer” in net for Philadelphia, but he stole the show against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night as the Flyers won 3-2.

Who knows if this injury will have a huge impact on the Flyers or not, but in an ideal world, Leighton would return from his back surgery trying to win the No. 2 job from Brian Boucher instead of returning to save the day as the team’s two goalies fall apart. We’ll just have to wait and see, then.

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In shorter term injury news, Sam Carchidi reports that Chris Pronger is a “long shot” to play for the Flyers on Saturday. Surely the team will like to have their cornerstone defenseman back as soon as possible on the heels of that bad goalie news, but Philadelphia will probably err on the side of safety with its huge blue line star.

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    Video: Phil Kessel displays incredible hand-eye coordination on goal

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    This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.

    The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.

    (Watch that goal in the video above.)

    It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.

    Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.

    Judge for yourself: Was Drouin’s would-be 1-0 goal offside?

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    To start the seemingly pivotal stretch, Andrei Vasilevskiy made an outstanding save on Evgeni Malkin on what sure looked like a scary chance.

    The play swiftly shifted from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s end to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ side of the ice, and it seemed like Jonathan Drouin scored a big 1-0 goal in Game 6.

    As it turns out, the goal was disallowed thanks to an offside goal review.

    Here are a few viewpoints on that moment in GIF form … you can get a fuller view via the video above.

    The general feeling among those who don’t have a horse in the race is that it was the right call. (Lightning fans were, uh, not happy.)

    Lightning coach believes Drouin ‘is going to be dominant in this league’

    TAMPA, FL - APRIL 30:  Jonathan Drouin #27 of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates his goal against the New York Islanders  during the first period in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Second Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena on April 30, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images)
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    At some point, it will probably be kind of boring to hear members of the Tampa Bay Lightning organization praise Jonathan Drouin.

    At least if Drouin re-signs with the Bolts after quite the affirming postseason and his ascension amid injuries.

    These days? It’s still sort of entertaining.

    In the latest case, Jon Cooper was asked to compare the development paths for Nikita Kucherov vs. Drouin. After empathizing with the pressure Drouin carries as a high-end pick (vs. Kucherov’s ability to come in under the radar), Cooper had some very positive things to say about No. 27.

    ” … So many people think, well, you’re just going to step in the league at 18 and be dominant,” Cooper said. “I truly believe Jonathan is going to be dominant in this league, but it’s hard to do at 18. He had to work through it, and that’s it.”

    Drouin, now at 21, has 12 points in 15 playoff games.

    In other Lightning news, it sounds like the team will roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, an alignment that has been working well lately and also came through at times during the 2015 postseason.

    The Penguins, meanwhile, replace Beau Bennett with Conor Sheary.

    WATCH LIVE: Pittsburgh Penguins at Tampa Bay Lightning – Game 6

    PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 22:  Tyler Johnson #9 of the Tampa Bay Lightning collides with Phil Kessel #81 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on May 22, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images)
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    Tonight could be the final game of the Eastern Conference Final between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning. You can catch Game 6 via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

    Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay (8:00 p.m. ET)

    The television broadcast of Game 6 is on NBCSN. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here. The Bolts lead the series 3-2.

    Here’s some relevant reading material to get you ready for tonight’s game:

    Malkin guaranteed a Penguins win in Game 6

    Lightning coach doesn’t seem flustered by Malkin’s guarantee

    Kucherov continues to be clutch for the Bolts this postseason

    Marc-Andre Fleury: ‘I should have been better’ in Game 5