They still have a shot, they just have to use it
WILMINGTON — Tonight, when Michael Leighton steps between the pipes at the Wachovia Center, the Bruins are expected to apply far more heat on the fill-in Flyers netminder than they did in Game 5.
After all, it would be nearly impossible for the Bruins to be less effective against Leighton than they were in Monday’s 4-0 embarrassment at TD Garden. Leighton faced only 14 shots, the majority one-and-out situations with no sustained pressure.
“They’ve got a pretty good goaltender,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “Even though he hasn’t played in a while, he’s still a pretty good goaltender for them. I would say if anything, we need to get shots on net like we’ve talked about the whole series. The more you get, the more traffic you get in front of the net, the more chances you get no matter who’s in [goal]. It’s definitely something we have to do better next game.’’
Leighton will make his first start of the playoffs, regaining No. 1 status after Brian Boucher injured both knees in a second-period pileup. Boucher is not expected to return in the series.
“His left one is worse than the right,’’ general manager Paul Holmgren told
Leighton, claimed off waivers from Carolina Dec. 15, served as the go-to goalie when Boucher and Ray Emery were out with injuries. After going 1-4-0 with a 4.29 goals-against average and an .848 save percentage for the Hurricanes, Leighton found his game in Philly. He went 16-5-2 with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage for the Flyers during the regular season, a run cut short March 16, when he sprained an ankle.
“Hopefully we will take advantage of whoever is in nets,’’ Julien said. “It doesn’t matter who it is. We have to take advantage of the situation. If he’s rusty or he’s not as sharp as he should be, then it’s up to us to take advantage of it. If he is sharp and he’s good, then we’ve got to be better in front of him and do what we’ve done against every other goaltender. We faced one of the best ones in the league this year in Ryan Miller. We managed to come out of that one. Nothing should really change in that area when it comes to getting traffic in front of the net and getting shots on net.’’
“I don’t think we should question Tuukka,’’ Julien said. “[Monday] night, they got a power-play goal from real close in. The other one was a broken stick with [Dennis] Wideman and it’s a breakaway. Basically, there’s two goals there that we know could be turned around. He’s been good. I thought he made some good saves at times, especially in the first couple minutes of the game. He had the two-on-one and he slid across and made that big save. He made some big saves even when it was 4-0. In the last half of the third, he still made some good saves. I don’t question him at all. I think he’s been solid for us. We just have to better in front of him. Teams are going to score four goals on your team no matter how good you are defensively if you don’t play with the puck. Which we didn’t play with enough [Monday] night.’’
Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.