The Flyers’ Goaltending Situation: ‘Who Dat?’
For the Philadelphia Flyers, this time of year always raises questions as to who is going to be the number one man in goal.
This year, the Flyers faithful are probably saying “Who is that?”
Since Ron Hextall retired, the Flyers have employed quite a few goalies, Roman Cechmanek, Robert Esche and Antero Niittymaki, and Martin Biron were among the many that consistently started and got the job done–for the most part.
The Flyers believed they may have solved this issue in the off-season with the signing of Ray Emery, who backstopped the Ottawa Senators all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007, where they lost to the Anaheim Ducks.
Emery, who has proven to be a solid goalie despite his off-ice shenanigans, is on injured reserve. And the guy who replaced him–Michael Leighton–is out eight to 10 weeks with an ankle injury. That leaves the Flyers with Brian Boucher as their number one man. The last time he was an NHL team’s number one man was during the 2002-2003 season as a Phoenix Coyotes, where he wasn’t very reliable, going 15-20-8. He has only two winning seasons under his belt, in 1999-2000 with the Flyers and 2008-2009 with the Sharks. (He was 12-6-3.)
Besides Emery, Leighton and Boucher, the Flyers have also dressed Jeremy Duchesne, Johan Backlund and Carter Hutton. Who?
Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren, reportedly told the Delaware County Times that the club was looking for other options to find a more experienced goaltender. Robert Esche, the former Flyer who is now playing Russia, was one of the players being reported in the Philadelphia media.
While it is often easy to blame the goaltender for a loss, more pressure will now be on the Flyers forwards and defensemen–for both goal support and shot blocking. The Flyers proved they can win with Boucher Sunday night, beating rival New Jersey 5-1. But, it will ultimately come down to how consistent this team can be.
On a night where the Flyers will score one goal, whichever goalie is in probably cannot be counted on to stand on his head to get the win. In fact, the Flyers would probably lose.