We’re not too far into the 2013 season yet, but it looks like the Philadelphia Flyers are going to be much happier with the performance they’ll get out of Ilya Bryzgalov this season. He’s looked good, even when the defense in front of him has looked poor. Which has been most of the time.
However, there has to be concern over the man behind Bryzgalov: Michael Leighton.
Bryzgalov obviously cannot start every game. But with Leighton as the secondary option between the pipes, the Flyers may be tempted to do so. There’s a reason that Leighton has only played on game in the NHL since surrendering the game/series-winning goal in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals. He’s not very good.
Leighton made his debut for the Flyers on Sunday night and things went about as expected. He surrendered five goals and the Flyers were absolutely trounced by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now not all of that is on Leighton, but he’s not exactly a guy you can count on to hold the opposing team, especially a talented offensive club like the Bolts, to two or three goals.
He’s probably going to give up four or five in any given outing. That’s the expectation at this point, especially playing behind this defense. Which means that the Flyers are going to have to put in five or six goals every time he’s back there. They’re certainly capable, but that can’t be the expectation every time Leighton is manning the crease.
The Flyers are very likely going to have to address their backup goaltender spot at some point. It’d be hyperbole to say that every time Leighton is back there, it could be a loss for the Flyers, but you’re putting a lot of pressure on your offense when Bryzgalov needs a break.
Could they look at a guy like Ben Bishop? He’d make sense as a guy who is not only a capable backup, but could very well step in and ride it out for a few starts if Bryzgalov goes down with an injury. The same can’t be said of Leighton.
It is just one start. But the Flyers likely won’t be giving Leighton too many of them. In a shortened season, that could be bad news for Bryz. They may want to address their backup situation and get someone in there who is a bit more reliable, as that would prove more beneficial towards the end of the regular season.