Flyers promote Leighton – will he start Sunday?

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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.