Random thoughts about the Flyers’ goaltending situation, beginning with something that seems obvious (at least to me):
That both Sergei Bobrovsky and Brian Boucher will play before this thing is over, whenever it is over.
Coach Peter Laviolette has spent the entire season delivering the same message about his goaltending: that it really doesn’t matter. Lots of coaches say it but Laviolette has done a better job of selling it than anybody around here in recent memory. Most coaches shy away from this kind of a situation for a very good reason -- that is, that it puts the heat on the coach this way.
If you spend the season switching back and forth, and if you sell your team on the idea that switching back and forth does not hurt the product, and if you tell the fan base that switching back and forth gives you the best chance, then the focus is not on the goaltender that night -- it is on the coach. It is much easier for a coach to pick one guy and sell him as the guy and ride him until he either wins or loses. Either way, the decision is made ahead of time and the second-guessing is minimal.
The way Laviolette has built it, the second-guessing will be endless. He seems not to care. It tells you a lot about the guy.
As for who goes first, I think the coach got this one right, too. I can easily make the argument that Boucher will provide a more consistent level of performance than Bobrovsky, that he is the better puckhandler, and that he was, after all, the Flyers’ best player in their first-round playoff win last year against New Jersey (before blowing out both knees in the middle of the second round against Boston).
At the same time, you can just as easily argue that Bobrovsky is the more athletic of the two goaltenders and that his highs are higher than Boucher’s. That seems to be what Laviolette is banking on. Bobrovsky is young, inexperience, exuberant and sometimes all over the place. So, if you think you’re going to need both guys anyway, you start with the kid and hope that his highs are really high -- and then, when necessary, you have the steady, veteran, seen-it-all guy to bring in off of the bench.
I don’t know that Laviolette will change goalies with every loss -- that would be pretty drastic -- but nothing is out of the question, given the construct that the coach has created. He clearly will do what it takes -- and it seems just as clear that the dressing room will play for either guy.
And whither Michael Leighton? Nothing is impossible, but I really don’t think you would see him unless there was an injury to one of the first two guys. I mean, two is enough.