Yes, yes, I know some fans have not forgiven Michael Leighton for how 2010 ended. He should have made that save but let’s remember Leighton was the man who helped bring the Flyers back from 3-0 the Boston Bruins and who posted three shutouts during the Eastern Conference Final.
Michael Leighton had two stints in Philadelphia. He played four games with the Flyers during the 2006-07 season, going 2-2 with a 3.69 goals against average and an .882 save percentage.
Leighton re-joined the Flyers toward the end of the 2009-2010 season because Ray Emery went down with an injury. Leighton came in and produced solid numbers, but an injury in March ended his regular season.
Fast forward to May. It is midway through the second period of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals and Brian Boucher has just been taken off the ice with an injured leg. Leighton takes Boucher’s place and does not allow a single goal as the Flyers win 4-0 to stay alive in the series. Leighton backstops the Flyers to Game 6 and Game 7 to help the Flyers become only the third team in the NHL to come back and win a series after being down three games to none.
Leighton continued to be a brick wall against the Canadiens and the Flyers moved on to the Stanley Cup Final. Leighton even got this awesome “History Will Be Made” commercial:
Leighton came back down to earth during the Stanley Cup Final. It was tough to watch his confidence shatter after the previous two rounds.
Leighton signed a two-year extension with the Flyers after the Stanley Cup run, but he could never get the magic of 2010 back into his game. He struggled to make the team and struggled with injuries. He only played two games with the Flyers over the next two years, spending most of his time in the AHL.
Let’s put aside the venom for Leighton. He was not the permanent answer between the pipes, but he gave Philadelphia one heck of a playoff run. The spring of 2010 would not have been as memorable if the hockey gods had decided to smile upon Michael Leighton.