Michael Leighton is the exiled kid at the lunch table >

by Michael DeNicola

Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013 -

I mentioned in a post from our Facebook page that I've been sidetracked the last handful of days due to family issues. Nothing major, so no need to be that concerned. But it took my attention and time away from writing articles and updating our website. Nevertheless, I have had the inconvenience of catching our last loss to the Lightning on my DVR. 

Here's the deal -- Michael Leighton is just a deplorable netminder. 

For starters, I want to mention that I am, indeed, a Leighton hater. It has nothing to do with the Patrick Kane, Game 6, Stanley Cup winning goal against him back in 2010. Yea, it chapped my ass like any Flyers diehard, but we're all human. We make mistakes, and with enough time, all is forgiven. 

My extreme animosity for #49 falls back on the 2010 offseason when he decided to re-sign with the Club for 2-years, $3.1-Million ($1.55m AAV). At the time, Leighton had failed to disclose a health issue regarding his back with Flyers management. He extended his stay in Philadelphia under very poor faith. Days after he signed his contract, news broke that the netminder needed surgery which sidelined him for good while at the beginning of the 2010-11 season. I don't trust him. 

Forget the fact that the guy was just a flash in the pan and caught a moment of success while carrying our team to the Finals in 2010. He's a dishonest journeyman who was looking for a permanent home no matter what it took. 

I'm glad I got that straightened out. On to Sunday's abortion of a performance....

The entire team looked like puréed dogshit. Couturier started us off with a goal within the first minute of contention, but from there the gameplan took a quick trip south. 

Once again, the penalty-killing was torturous. Nevermind the fact we played incredibly undisciplined hockey which cost us with so many shorthanded situations, Michael Leighton couldn't bail us out of a drunk-tank with a winning lottery ticket let alone the PK. 

"But he's a backup goaltender...."

Be that as it may, Leighton's movement in net was slow and predictable. Granted he never received much help from the defending front, it still doesn't excuse goals like this --

The weak 5-hole is Leighton's M.O. 

His lateral motion in net creates enough room under his legpads to slip Pamela Anderson in a push-up bra through his guard. You can credit that goal to Stamkos' offensive sorcery, but I'd rather call it what it was..... an irrefutable floater that should have been stopped and covered. 

By that time, the final nail had been hammered into the coffin. We went down in flames, 5 - 1, to the Bolts. The poor teamwork was inexcusable, and sucked any high-hopes we had from the previous victories right out of our sails. 

Picture it like this -- the Flyers are the cool kids in high school during lunch. They're all piled at a table together, just cracking jokes and discussing which of them is gonna ask out the hot girl who's been growing her epic rack since Grade 8. 

All of a sudden, "that guy" who doesn't shower much and listens to HOLE comes and sits down with them. The atmosphere at the table takes a nosedive, and the Awkward Meter detonates like Al Roker's ass at the Whitehouse. No one knows what to do or say. Attempts are made to continue the conversation, but everyone's got their eyes split on "that guy" shoveling his canned tuna in his silent mouth. 

The dialogue's chemistry is gone. The entire lunch room focuses their attention on the cool kids who've just grown by one, and the insecurity level skyrockets like the prom scene out of "Carrie".

Michael Leighton is "that guy". He drags the intensity and security down to a degree of uncertainty, and our roster of skaters react to it. There's absolutely no confidence between the pipes, so the play up front tries overcompensating. That's when our boys can't play their style of hockey. 

Our blue line is subpar to begin with. Starting Leighton against a high-powered Tampa Bay Club after defeating the Panthers the night before was an incredibly poor decision, in my opinion. 

Did Bryzgalov need the break? Yes. Is Leighton a competent backstop? No. 

Paging Brian Boucher? Brian Boucher? Please make your way to the NHL roster. 

Oh, that's lovely. But hey, anything's better than the clay pigeon wearing the #49 sweater. 

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