Saturday, December 27, 2014

Leighton's magical ride continues

Another game, another shutout.

Leighton's magical ride continues

Michael Leighton now holds a franchise record with three shutouts in the same playoff series. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)
Michael Leighton now holds a franchise record with three shutouts in the same playoff series. (Ed Hille / Staff Photographer)

MONTREAL -- Bernie (no last name necessary) never did it. Hexy (no proper name necessary) never did it, either.

But Michael Leighton has done it. He now has three shutouts in the same Stanley Cup playoff series following his 3-0 win on Saturday afternoon at the Bell Centre. Three in one series is a franchise record.

Leighton also has four shutouts in the six games he has started since taking over after Brian Boucher tore up his knees in Game 5 of the previous series against Boston. Out of the 20 periods he has played, Leighton has pitched a shutout in 15 of them.

"Well, obviously it's nice any time you get a shutout," Leighton said. "But I'm not really concerned about shutouts right now. I'm concerned about winning. Tonight that's not really even on my mind about the shutout. If we would have won 5‑1, I would have been just as happy. We're looking at the next game. I'm not even thinking about that going into that game, and hopefully we play a similar game as we did tonight."

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Truth be told, Leighton has been fronted by a ruthlessly-efficient defense for most of his games -- and this game probably more than any. Of the 54 shots that the Canadiens attempted, the Flyers blocked 27 of them, exactly half. (Of the rest, 17 were on net and 10 went wide.) It is a very big number, the team's second-highest total of the post-season; they had 30 blocked shots in Game 6 against Boston.

The problems of Game 3, when the Flyers lost by a 5-1 score, seem so distant now.

"Well, obviously that was one of our main goals was to play better defensively," Leighton said. "We definitely did that. I don't know how many times they came down the wing trying to fire pucks at me, and we had their "D" men who stuck their stick out and it went up in the crowds.

"We talked right before the game, and said we want to block as many shots and stop them charging the net, and we definitely did that. Our "D" did a great job doing that, and our forwards at the point were doing a good job blocking shots, too."

For the record, there were four other series in franchise history when the Flyers had two shutouts: 2003 against Ottawa, 1985 and 1975 against the New York Islanders, and 1975 against Toronto.

The Flyers have allowed five total goals in the series, all in Game 3. Just for reference, the fewest goals against in franchise history in a five-game series is seven (1980 vs. the New York Rangers). In a six-game series, it's nine (1999 vs. Toronto). In a seven-game series, it's 16 (1975 vs. the Islanders and 2003 vs. Toronto).

That is a lot of numbers, a lot of records -- and Michael Leighton is knocking them down, one at a time.

 

 

 

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
About this blog
Rich Hofmann arrived at the Daily News in 1980 for a job whose status was officially designated as "full-time, temporary." A senior at Penn at the time, he was hired to fill in on the copy desk during a staff illness. The notion of him covering the Eagles or being a columnist did not exist in anyone's imagination. It was supposed to be six weeks and out, but he never left. It is only one of the reasons why so many people have concerns about him as a potential house guest. Rich has blogged the postseasons of the Flyers and Eagles. E-mail Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com Reach Rich at hofmanr@phillynews.com.

Rich Hofmann Daily News Sports Columnist
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