To the surprise of just about no one, the Philadelphia Flyers will start Brian Boucher for Game 7 against the Buffalo Sabres. It’s probably not much of a surprise that Sergei Bobrovsky will be his backup after Michael Leighton’s disastrous first period performance in Game 6, either.
Of the three goalies the Flyers have already gone through in just six games, Boucher has all three of Philly’s wins. He’s 3-1 so far with an impressive 93.5 save percentage and 2.12 GAA while Leighton and Bobrovsky are 0-1 each with some unsightly individual numbers.
As easy as it is to be positive about his recent results, Boucher’s a journeyman backup who hasn’t played a Game 7 in many years. The most recent team to start three different goalies in a single series was the 2004 Vancouver Canucks, according to Elias Sports Bureau. That team ended up losing that first round series against Miikka Kiprusoff and the Calgary Flames after going through a rotation of Dan Cloutier, Alex Auld and Johan Hedberg.
All of those negatives aside, the Flyers said they feel comfortable playing in front of Boucher.
“Every time (Boucher) has come in, he’s brought a sense of calmness that, as a team, we need and he’s been able to give to us,” forward Kris Versteeg said. “He’s earned this start and obviously it’s been a long time since he’s started a Game 7 (May 26, 2000; 2-1 loss to New Jersey) but it doesn’t matter to us. We’re worried about going out there as a team.”
“It doesn’t matter who’s in net,” Claude Giroux said. “We have confidence in any goalie that is giving us a chance to win. (In Game 6) we saw that Boucher came in pretty strong and made some key saves to keep us in the game.”
For his part, Boucher thinks he’s been strong except for the Flyers’ biggest nemesis so far in this series: a horrible stretch in the first period (Game 5 in Boucher’s case).
“Personally, I feel like I have had a solid series aside from three minutes (of Game 5), so I feel good about my game,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to my teammates. They have battled really hard in front of me and they really have given me a chance to get back in there with the way they played down 3-1 (in Game 6). A lot of credit goes to them.”
A Game 7 contest is an inherently nerve-wracking event. The Flyers need to be as confident as possible with their man in net, so Boucher provides that safety blanket. Ultimately, all that really matters is how Boucher and the team plays tonight, though.