Tim Brent, Darroll Powe

Flyers goalie Michael Leighton returns to the ice following back surgery

Former, and possibly returning, Flyers starting goalie Michael Leighton has missed the regular season to this point due to a back injury suffered during training camp. Leighton had surgery on his back and now he’s back skating on the ice preparing to return to action. For Leighton, getting back into game shape is a tricky matter as Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly shares with us.

Leighton said he did “some little twirling” on the ice and not much more.

“The back feels good,” he said. “The main problem was the weakness in my foot and with time that will go away. That’s still there but the back felt great. I did some movements but not much.”

The target date for his return to full practice remains around Nov. 20.

“I’m aiming as soon as I can get back on the ice to get back playing,” he said.

The only question remaining for Leighton when he does get back into game shape and into the Flyers lineup, is will there be a job for him upon his return? Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky has been solid in goal and Leighton’s backup before he was injured, Brian Boucher, has done respectably well in Leighton’s absence.

If there’s a a guy who has to be nervous about Leighton’s return to action it’s Boucher. Bobrovsky has done well enough to steal the majority of the starts to this point (six starts to four for Boucher). The catch for Leighton will be how much playing time he’ll be able to get when he is healthy enough to play. It was set to be a split-starter set up in Philadelphia before Leighton went down, but with Bobrovsky in place and playing well, it would make coach Peter Laviolette’s life a bit easier to have two guys he can count on to play in goal.

NHL on NBCSN ’15-16 coverage begins tonight with doubleheader

Corey Crawford, Derek Stepan
AP Photo
Leave a comment

After months of waiting, we’re finally ready to begin the 2015-16 campaign and NBCSN will kick off its coverage with a doubleheader tonight.

The action will begin with the Chicago Blackhawks hosting the New York Rangers, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Chicago has been called a dynasty by some for winning the Stanley Cup three times over the last six campaigns, but one thing that the Blackhawks haven’t done is successfully defend a title. The last team to do so was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997-98 before the salary cap era kicked off. That change was on display this summer as the Blackhawks were forced to move or otherwise walk away from Johnny Oduya, Kris Versteeg, Patrick Sharp, Antoine Vermette, Brad Richards, and Brandon Saad in the name of cap compliance.

Even after losing all those pieces of their 2015 championship team though, Chicago has emerged from the summer with much of its core intact. It also has some promising new players, such as 23-year-old KHL star Artemi Panarin, who is attempting to make the leap to the NHL after outscoring former teammate Ilya Kovalchuk on his way to leading SKA St. Petersburg to a KHL championship.

The New York Rangers should be a great first test for the Blackhawks as they begin their new quest. The Rangers advanced to at least the Eastern Conference Final in three of the last four years, but they haven’t earned a championship since 1994. With Henrik Lundqvist set to celebrate his 34th birthday in March, the Rangers’ window for winning the Cup in front of their all-star goaltender is closing and thus the stakes are high for New York this season.

Starting at 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN will air the San Jose Sharks’ contest against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center. This is the second straight year that these two teams have been matched for the opener, but this time it’s under much different circumstances.

A year ago, Los Angeles had its sights set on defending its title while the Sharks were seeking revenge after suffering a reverse sweep in the first round against the Kings. In the end, neither team had the season they were looking for as they both fell short of the playoffs.

For the Sharks, that miss ended a playoff streak that dated back to the 2003-04 campaign while Los Angeles suffered its first major setback since it celebrated its first championship in 2012. Both teams have to be hungry to bounce right back this season and given that each both of these squads are certainly capable of obtaining that goal. First though, they need to settle the latest chapter of their rivalry.

PHT Morning Skate: Remembering 10 years of Crosby, Ovechkin

Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin
AP Photo
Leave a comment

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Here’s a detailed look back at Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin‘s first 10 years in the NHL. (NHL.com)

Speaking of Crosby, he’s signed a multiyear partnership with adidas. (Newswire)

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will play a key role in easing Connor McDavid into the NHL. (Edmonton Sun)

After two polar opposite seasons, the jury is still out on Patrick Roy as a head coach. (Denver Post)

Marc-Andre Fleury enjoys pulling off pranks on his teammates. “I play better when I’m looser, laughing and having fun,” he said. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

Art McDonald, a Canadian who won recently won a Nobel Prize, talked to the committee members about the Toronto Maple Leafs. (SB Nation)