Thursday, July 2, 2015

Will Boucher be ready for Winter Classic?

Flyers goalie Brian Boucher would love to start Friday's Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston.

Will Boucher be ready for Winter Classic?

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Brian Boucher backed up Michael Leighton in Sunday’s win, but said that he wasn’t ready to play in a game yet. (Gene J. Puskar/AP file photo)
Brian Boucher backed up Michael Leighton in Sunday’s win, but said that he wasn’t ready to play in a game yet. (Gene J. Puskar/AP file photo)

   Flyers goalie Brian Boucher would love to start Friday's Winter Classic at Fenway Park in Boston.

   A New Englander who grew up in Rhode Island and attended Red Sox games at Fenway, Boucher has missed the last three games with a lacerated right ring finger. He was at practice Monday and, if all goes well, will return to action Wednesday in New York against the Rangers.

   But Boucher said he still felt painful "vibrations" in his finger when he made a stick save Monday; he said he needs a couple more practices before he feels he is ready.

    It seems imperative that Boucher gets one game under his belt before playing on a national stage Friday in Boston.

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    Last year's Winter Classic between Detroit and Chicago at Wrigley Field was the most-viewed NHL regular-season game in almost 34 years. More than 4.4 million Americans watched the game.

    Ray Emery also practiced Monday, but he isn't expected to return for a few weeks, at the earliest. Emery has been sidelined after undergoing abdominal surgery. Emery took shots for the first time since his injury and said he was "ahead of schedule." He was originally expected to return in late January or early February.

    Boucher filled in admirably for Emery before being injured, and Michael Leighton has been excellent in his three games as Boucher's replacement. In four games, including three starts, Leighton is 3-0 with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage since the Flyers claimed him from Carolina off re-entry waivers on Dec. 15.

   After Monday's practice, coach Peter Laviolette said he was undecided if Leighton or Boucher would face the Rangers Wednesday.

    The Flyers (18-18-2) will take a three-game winning streak into New York. Their longest winning streak was five games, from Oct. 31 to Nov. 12.

    Notes. Defenseman Ryan Parent, who missed the last game with back spasms, will visit a doctor later Monday.....Legendary singer James Taylor will perform the national anthem before the Winter Classic matchup.

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Inquirer Staff Writer
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