Ilya Bryzgalov has appeared in a National Hockey League-leading 25 games so far this shortened season, which represents 93% of his team’s total games (27) played. His nearly complete presence has been required because a steady backup goalie hasn’t been in place this year.
The Philadelphia Flyers will be in the midst of their mini-spring break when the vernal equinox takes place on March 20. Don’t feel bad, this is a sports piece. Most people (including the author) aren’t able to instantly pull every calendar-connected term from their memory banks either.
The first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere takes place eight days from now. By that time the Flyers will have finished a home-and-home series with the New Jersey Devils on March 13 and 15. After their divisional “doubleheader”, Philadelphia will travel to Florida to face the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 18.
Michael Leighton, who was just recalled from the Adirondack Phantoms, is likely to start one of the team’s next three games. Brian Boucher’s tag-team partner would ideally be put between the pipes on a variety of occasions heading toward the end of the regular season on April 27.
However, there’s a problem with that scenario that isn’t likely to subside. The Flyers currently occupy the far outside pole position in this 2013 playoff race.
Peter Laviolette needs to put his best masked man in net in order to win as many games as possible. He can’t afford to give “Bryz” too many days off because Leighton (and Boucher) haven’t played that well behind a thin defense.
Granted Leighton has only played one game to-date. Allowing him to prove that he’s up to the task of consistently stopping pucks this season is a luxury that a compressed regular season schedule won’t afford.
It does feel like a lost Flyers’ year, with no clear playoff path in sight. However, as they say in the world of baseball, spring does offer hope.