What “24” was to presidents, the Philadelphia Flyers are to goaltenders.
This post-season, they started with the undrafted rookie, Sergei Bobrovsky. He lost Game One, 1-0, and then gave up three goals in the first period of the next match. He was pulled in favor of Brian Boucher and when the series returned to Buffalo for Game Three, Sideshow Bob was the third string goalie. That seems like a reasonable reaction.
Take a look at the goal Bobrovsky gave up in Game One. Tyler Myers shoots the puck from the point and Patrick Kaleta is right there to punch home that juicy rebound.
If that was your brain, this is your brain on Tyler Ennis’ overtime goal from Game Five:
Shot from the point, rebound kicked out front, virtual tap in. The guy wearing the pads in that sequence? Michael Leighton, who put his mask on after Boucher let in, yep, three goals in the first period at home.
Compared to last year’s run the combined goalie stats are pretty similar (.913 save percentage last year v. .919 this postseason and a 2.47 GAA in 2010 against a 2.30 GAA through five games in 2011), but all you need is the eyeball test. Peter Laviolette is flipping his goalies like steaks on the grill because the Flyers have three goalies who are all about the same. None of them are quite good enough to shoulder the load.
When the Flyers take on the Sabres this afternoon for Game Six, any of the three could realistically be in net. Sure they’ve each had good moments but they’ve also each made costly mistakes in this series. That’s the spot the Flyers have put themselves in. They’ve got interchangeable parts between the pipes yet none of the parts are adequate.
Plus switching the goalie when things aren’t going well makes it look like things have changed when they really haven’t. Put another coat of paint on the wall with the hole in it.
And they don’t deserve any sympathy. The team is constructed to have “a guy” in net. If that guy plays above his threshold, awesome. If he chokes, well, that’s why there are two other guys on speed dial.
This is simply another year where that hasn’t exactly worked out. Now there’s still a chance the Flyers could come back and win this series, but not having a starting goaltender solidified makes that less likely.
It really doesn’t matter who the Flyers start today. The Sabres’ strategy isn’t going to change because Philly decided to throw a different mediocre goaltender in there. The bigger deal is working around their defense in order to put quality shots on target.
Oh, and in its eight season run, “24” went through nine presidents. That sounds like Philadelphia.