The Philadelphia Flyers suffered an “embarrassing” loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday and followed it up with a 3-0 defeat against the Boston Bruins this afternoon.
With the Flyers rapidly losing ground in their hunt for a playoff spot, they have called up goaltender Michael Leighton and demoted Brian Boucher, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Sam Carchidi.
The question is why. Is it possible that Leighton might start in the Flyers’ Sunday contest against the Buffalo Sabres (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), as the Philadelphia Daily News pondered.
Ilya Bryzgalov has started in 24 of the Flyers’ 26 games this season, including three games in the last five days. Leaning that heavily on a goaltender would be asking a lot under normal circumstances, but with the condensed schedule, Bryzgalov might be hitting a wall.
At the same time, Leighton, 31, allowed five goals on 26 shots against the Tampa Bay Lightning in his only start this season. It was just his second NHL game since he surrendered an overtime goal to Patrick Kane in the deciding contest of the 2010 Stanley Cup finals.
Either way, Sunday is another critical contest for Philadelphia as they try to stop the bleeding. Buffalo is just two points behind them and has played in one fewer games.
Philadelphia failed to take advantage of their recent opportunities to close the gap on some serious contenders for a playoff spot. They need to at least beat the few teams that are below them.
Looks as though slumping Dallas winger Valeri Nichushkin could be a healthy scratch tonight when the Stars host the Oilers at American Airlines.
Per the Morning-News, Nichushkin — who barely played in the second and third periods of Saturday’s 6-3 loss to Colorado — is likely to be replaced by Colton Sceviour in the lineup.
Stars head coach Lindy Ruff was fuming after the Avs defeat, calling it “embarrassing, worse than disappointing.” It didn’t take a genius to realize one of the players in his doghouse was Nichushkin, who had just 2:02 of ice time in the second period and 3:24 in the third.
Yesterday, Ruff dropped Nichushkin to the fourth line in practice.
“I’ve been trying to help him by shifting him around,” the head coach explained. “He had some struggles early in camp on right wing, so I put him on left, and he doesn’t seem real comfortable at left right now.
“His game, everything has got to get a little bit quicker.”
The 10th overall pick in 2013, Nichushkin has struggled to build on the form shown in his rookie campaign, when he scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 contests.
He missed nearly all of last season with a linger hip ailment and has been a virtual non-factor through the first two games this year.
When the Los Angeles Kings announced they’d settled with Mike Richards, it didn’t take long for the accusations of salary-cap circumvention to materialize.
And though NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly was adamant that the settlement was “far from” circumvention, apparently not everyone agrees with the league in that regard.
“Privately, other teams are screaming bloody murder and are threatening to make an issue about it at December’s Board of Governors’ meeting,” Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports.
Friedman goes into more detail in his story, so click the link to read more.
But remember how we wrote that the issue in this case was precedent, and that the “NHL and NHLPA can’t allow teams to escape onerous contracts through a back door”?
Well, one agent posed a good question to Friedman: “What’s to stop other teams from trying this?”