With Bobrovsky in control in Philly, who goes when Michael Leighton is ready to play?

It’s a nice problem to have if you’re the Philadelphia Flyers. They’ve got a goalie right now that’s ascended to stardom by taking the starting job for himself in Sergei Bobrovsky. Bobrovsky got the opportunity to take the starting job when assumed starting goalie Michael Leighton missed the start of the season thanks to back surgery. Bobrovsky won the starting job in the meantime over Brian Boucher but now that Leighton is back on the ice and resuming normal activities, who stays and who is going to end up going through all this? Chuck Gormley of Flyers Files took a look at the situation and offered up his take on things.

Leighton has been practicing on his own for two weeks and is close to being given medical clearance to practice all-out with the club. Boucher has played well in his backup role this season (1-2-1, 2.26 GAA) but has not been given a start since Oct. 25. The simplest solution would be to send Leighton to the Phantoms on a conditioning assignment since he has not been in game action since a preseason game on Sept. 24.

If nothing else, that would bide the Flyers another week or so. But once all three goalies are healthy, look for Boucher to pass through waivers, at least on the way down to the minors. It is entirely possible that when and if the Flyers decide to call up Boucher, he’ll be reclaimed by another team at the half-price rate of $462,500. Boucher is in the final year of his two-year contract with the Flyers and would like to earn himself one more two-year deal in the NHL.

Leighton, on the other hand, signed a two-year, $3.1 million contract and is far less attractive at that price tag.

Indeed, a goalie with a wonky back and a somewhat stiff price tag doesn’t really motivate anyone to want to make a move for them. Leighton will get his chances to win his spot in the lineup as, at least a backup to Bobrovsky. That said, Bobrovsky is in sore need of a breather after starting the last 11 Flyers games. Brian Boucher, you’d think, will get another start soon and it’s not that he’s been bad this year, it’s just that he’s not starting goaltender material anymore.

Leighton proved himself towards the end of last season and again in the playoffs that he’s a very capable goalie. While he may not be the answer in goal, nor will he need to be now with Bobrovsky around, he’s a very good goalie to have around nonetheless as he proved last season when Ray Emery went down for the season. Leighton ascended to the starting job after Brian Boucher (and others) went down with injuries and willed the Flyers into the playoffs.

What this all means to me is that Brian Boucher had either start getting curious about real estate in Glens Falls, NY where the Flyers AHL affiliate plays. With Bobrovsky in control and Leighton on the way back and ready to take over the #1A/#2 spot in Philly, he’s the likely candidate to get squeezed out.

Leafs’ Marleau becomes 18th NHL player to reach 1,500-game milestone

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Patrick Marleau’s three-year contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs will end two months before his 41st birthday, a summer when many believe his NHL career will come to an end.

But as he celebrated game No. 1,500 Wednesday night against the Detroit Red Wings, the veteran forward was talking about reaching another kind of milestone.

“I’m going to keep going as long as I can,” he said Wednesday morning via Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston. “I don’t know if my wife’s ready to have me at home full-time yet. If I feel good and still think I can contribute then I’ll keep it going.”

Marleau is the 18th player in NHL history to reach the 1,500 game mark. Should he stay healthy and play the entire 82-game slate or close to that, he’ll enter the 2018-19 season 11th all-time in that category. Gordie Howe holds the record with 1,767 games played.

Health has helped the 38-year-old Marleau reach the mark in his 20th NHL season. He hasn’t missed a regular game since the 2008-09 season and hasn’t played fewer than 74 games in a full season in his entire career.

Marleau has gone from being the youngest player in the league to the sixth-oldest in the span of 20 years and considering his history of good health, better fitness regiments of players and treatment by training staffs, challenging Howe may not be a crazy idea.

Of course, that is unless Jaromir Jagr sticks around. If that happens then Marleau would likely have to settle for No. 2.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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WATCH LIVE: Blackhawks at Blues

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This week’s edition of NBCSN’s Rivalry Night will feature a central division clash between the Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues.

It’s still early days, but the two sides are battling atop the Central, with the Blackhawks powered by great starts from a number of players including Brandon Saad and Ryan Hartman. The Blues, meanwhile, are looking to halt a two-game skid after winning their first four games of the season. The game also features the return of NHL on NBC analyst Ed Olczyk to the booth.

You can check out tonight’s game on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online via the live stream.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:

Blues get Alexander Steen back against Blackhawks

Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk’s ‘best medicine’

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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Former NHL agent Stacey McAlpine charged in fraud case

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WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) Former NHL agent Stacey McAlpine has been charged with fraud in a case involving former Ottawa Senators players Dany Heatley and Chris Phillips.

Winnipeg police said Wednesday that the 54-year-old McAlpine bilked Heatley and Phillips out of $12 million between January 2004 and June 2011. McAlpine is charged with two counts of fraud over $5,000, two counts of theft over $5,000 and laundering proceeds of crime.

Heatley and Phillips sued McAlpine and McAlpine’s parents, claiming money was being invested in unapproved real estate deals, including an Ottawa condominium. CTV Calgary has reported that Heatley was awarded more than $6 million by an Alberta court.

Rask hurt in Bruins practice; Spooner out 4-6 weeks

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Well, the good news regarding injuries and the Boston Bruins didn’t last very long.

Earlier this week, PHT noted that forwards Patrice Bergeron and David Backes are expected to return in the near future, possibly as soon as Thursday. That’s great, but Wednesday turned out to be lousy thanks to one injury scare and one sure-thing that’s a negative.

The biggest concern is that of Tuukka Rask, and it’s something that might not clear up for a while. Rask was helped off the ice during practice today after being “bowled over” by young forward Anders Bjork.

The Bruins might dodge a bullet there, which would be huge if their backup work in anyway resembles the woes of 2016-17.

While we don’t know the severity of Rask’s issues just yet, there’s flat-out bad news for Ryan Spooner.

The Bruins estimate Spooner’s window of recovery at four-to-six weeks for a (cringe) “right groin adductor tear,” which he suffered on Oct. 15. Adam McQuaid suffered an injury in that same contest, so that could go down as a costly date for a Bruins team that has been fairly described as top-heavy.

Spooner, 25, was off to a slow start so far this season. He didn’t score a goal and managed one assist in five games, averaging 13:17 TOI per game. Even during that time, he was deployed in a very protected way, so the B’s can’t really claim that this is more than a body blow.

Even so, the Bruins might sport a patchwork lineup if Bergeron and/or Backes can’t play on Thursday. They’ll likely chalk it up as a win if Rask avoids anything significant, though.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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