Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ray Emery is set to return Saturday. Who's the backup?

Ray Emery is back! Emery, who hasn't played since December 5th after he had abdominal surgery, is ready to take the ice again for the Flyers. His return comes ahead of schedule as he was expected to be out until later this month but Emery feels well enough to play and will likely be back in net on Saturday when the Flyers take on the Lightning.

Hopefully Emery's return (with a cool new mask) will be a spark for the Flyers, who, despite playing better recently, still find themselves on the outside looking in for a playoff spot. The other hope with Emery is that he isn't rushing back so quickly that he is risking further injury. Emery is likely pushing himself to get back because he will be a free agent after this season and he wants to play as many games as possible so he can boost his value on the market.

The other story surrounding the return of Ray Emery is who the Flyers backup goalie will be. Brian Boucher was the backup to Emery earlier in the season but recent waiver addition Michael Leighton has played surprisingly well in net recently when Boucher missed time due to injury. Now that Boucher is healthy, the Flyers find themselves with three goaltenders for two spots. It's an interesting situation because, while Boucher is the better goaltender, he is also more expensive. Leighton has played well recently and carries a paltry salary but can the Flyers trust him as the full-time starter if Emery goes down again?

The likely short-term solution for the Flyers would be to keep three goalies until Emery proves that he is capable of handling a full load. At some point, however, I would expect the Flyers to waive Leighton and return to the Emery/Boucher tandem. The recent run of Michael Leighton has been solid but flukey. The Flyers have to go with the best two goalies they have.

1 comment:

Duff said...

I think memories of Ron Hextall have the writer here thinking Emery is better then he actually is. He is not a starter in the NHL, that has been proven over time and with the melt downs in Ottawa anytime he played in a game that had any meaning. He is descent goalie as long as the game doesn't mean anything. It is time for the Flyers to go and get a real proven starter. There are enough of them out there and unless it is a first round exit that is wanted, it is time to go and get a real starting goalie.