EDMONTON, Alberta – In a way, tonight’s starting goalie in Edmonton is no surprise.
It’s almost logical: the Flyers are playing against the last place Edmonton Oilers. It’s a perfect time to rest Ray Emery, who has started eight straight games since coming back from abdominal surgery on Jan. 17.
That’s why Michael Leighton will be tonight’s starter at Rexall Place (9:30 p.m. EST start).
The surprise here, though, is that Ray Emery won’t even be on the Flyers bench tonight. He’ll be in street clothes.
Brian Boucher, who has been a healthy scratch since Emery first started backing up Leighton on Jan. 12, will be the Flyers’ backup goaltender tonight. It’s Boucher’s first time on the bench in 11 games.
This is also Leighton’s first start in 9 games. When Emery and Boucher went down with injuries, Leighton stepped in and went 8-1-1 in 11 straight starts to turn the Flyers’ season around.
The Flyers have carried three goalies on their active roster since Emery returned.
It was clear that Emery needed rest: he did not partake in Tuesday’s practice in Edmonton and skipped the morning game-day skate in Calgary on Monday. The Flyers are clearly counting on him as their No. 1 for their run towards the playoffs.
That’s why tonight’s game matters. The Flyers know they need the two points.
Edmonton has won just once since Dec. 30. The Flyers have the far superior team. If they want to let the goaltender be the difference between winning and losing, they have no business walking with the two points anyways.
The Flyers’ lines (and defensive pairings) are expected to remain the same.
Here are tonight’s anticipated Oilers lines: (from Tuesday’s practice)
Penner – Gagner – Cogliano
Moreau – Horcoff - Comrie
Potulny – Brule – O’Sullivan
Stortini – Pouliot – Jacques
Possible extras: Nilsson, Pisani
Edmonton is still without Sheldon Souray, Ladislav Smid, Steve Staios, Ales Hemsky and Nikolai Khabibulin.
If you thought the Flyers’ cap situation is tough… try being in the Oilers’ shoes. They’re in last place and they are over the cap.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter at http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.