Brian Boucher has been the far more impressive Flyer goalie in recent weeks. He’s gone 6-0-1 in his past seven starts, allowing more than two goals just once. Boucher is quietly having a good season at 7-3-2, with a 2.11 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage. Rookie Sergei Bobrovsky, who started out hot, has hit a wall and could be the odd man out very soon. In Monday night’s 5-0 loss to the Panthers- at home- he allowed four goals in 33 minutes before being yanked. Yes, he is 15-5-3 (2.44 GAA, .919 SV%), but he has started only two of the past six games. Michael Leighton returned from his back injury that has kept him out all season, but the Flyers haven’t started him yet. They’re keeping three goalies for the meantime, which has to make you wonder if they’ll be moving one of them shortly. Leighton and Boucher could both help a team struggling in net (Tampa Bay for example). It is very unlikely that Bobrovsky would be dealt, so we will continue to wait and see what ends up happening with this three-man rotation. Unfortunately, we won’t know the answer to this dilemma for another week, when the Flyers next play.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Mike Smith suffered a knee injury in practice on Monday and will be out for about two weeks. Cedrick Desjardins has been recalled from the AHL, which was a pre-planned move even before the Smith injury. Dan Ellis is expected to get the start on Wednesday against the Islanders, but Desjardins could start Thursday against the Rangers. Ellis had started five of the past seven games, having not looked sharp before last night’s 21-save performance in a 5-1 win over Carolina. There was talk last week that Tampa Bay might be interested in Evgeni Nabokov, who was released by his KHL team, but the Lightning may give the kid a shot in the immediate future to see if he is the long-awaited answer in goal.
Jason LaBarbera has started the last three games for the Coyotes after Ilya Bryzgalov suffered an upper body injury late last week. He last played against the Devils on Wednesday in a 3-0 loss. Bryzgalov will probably be out until after the Christmas break, but the Coyotes have said the injury is more day-to-day than week-to-week. LaBarbera allowed five goals in 27 minutes last night in a 6-1 loss to the Penguins, so he has now allowed 11 goals in his last 7½ periods. Matt Climie took over from LaBarbera on Monday, stopping 15 of 16 shots he faced. Climie could see a start this week as Phoenix concludes a six-game road trip at San Jose on Thursday and Dallas on Sunday.
New York Islanders
Rookie Nathan Lawson got his first NHL start on Saturday night. He looked impressive in allowing three goals on 35 shots before losing 4-3 in a shootout to the Coyotes. With Rick DiPietro on IR yet again with swelling in his knee, and Dwayne Roloson having gone winless in his past twelve starts – the third game of the season – Lawson may receive another start on Wednesday night versus Tampa Bay. At this point, the Isles have nothing to lose (except more games), and there’s no real reason to rush DiPietro back if his knee is hurting.