Bobrovsky in net tonight; Habs get healthy
UPDATE (6:30 pm): Flyers rookie goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will start in goal tonight against the Canadiens.
It will be the first start for "Bob" since the Flyers blew a 4-1 third-period lead against San Jose a week ago. Brian Boucher had started the last three games.
Bobrovsky is 14-4-3 with a 2.29 goals-against average. This was his longest layoff between starts.
MONTRÉAL -- For Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, almost every game this season has included an intriguing goalie decision.
Eagles coach Andy Reid calls that a beautiful problem to have.
Tonight, for the first time this season, Laviolette's decision will come down to three goaltenders instead of two.
The Flyers activated Michael Leighton during last night's game, after a checkup by Dr. Alex Vaccaro revealed that Leighton was fit to return to duty full-time. Even so, Leighton is unlikely to dress for tonight's game - even though Leighton was 4-1 with a .950 save percentage against Montreal in last year's Eastern Conference Final.
With Leighton likely out of the picture, the remaining question - 'Boosh' or 'Bob' - doesn't get any easier for Laviolette.
Some nights, the decision has been obvious. On other nights, the decision was surprising.
Does Laviolette stick with the hot hand in Brian Boucher? Or, after topping Pittsburgh in an emotion-sapping contest for first place last night, does Laviolette go with the well-rested rookie, Sergei Bobrovsky, who had sat on the bench for the last three games.
Boucher has made his case, going 5-0-1 in his last 6 starts with an impeccable 1.76 goals against-average and a .940 save percentage. The only two goals Boucher allowed on Tuesday night against the Penguins both came on the power play.
Bobrovsky, on the other hand, received almost 25 minutes of extra practice time with goaltending coach Jeff Reese on Monday.
Boucher and Bobrovsky split both of the games against Montreal this season. Bobrovsky was out-dueled by Carey Price in a 3-0 Canadiens win at the Bell Centre on Nov. 16 and Boucher beat the Habs, 3-2, just 6 days later.
Here are a few other things to watch tonight (7:30 p.m., Comcast Network, 1210 AM WPHT):
HEALTHY HABS: Montreal has been at home for the last three days waiting for the first place Flyers. That allowed shutdown defenseman Jaroslav Spacek and forward Scott Gomez to get healthy enough to return to the lineup.
Gomez missed the last two games and Spacek hurt himself on Saturday in a fight with Toronto tough guy Clarke MacArthur.
Montreal's expected lineup, according to their line rushes at the morning skate:
Travis Moen - Tomas Plekanec - Mike Cammalleri
Brian Gionta - Scott Gomez - Max Pacioretty
Andrei Kostitsyn - Jeff Halpern - Maxim Lapierre
Benoit Pouliot - Lars Eller - Mathieu Darche
Philly's favorite P.K. Subban will be back in the lineup on defense, switching spots with Yannick Weber who will be scratched. Subban was a minus-3 against Toronto on Saturday, out for all three of the Leafs goals in their 3-1 win.
Carey Price will make his 28th start of the season tonight. He is 17-8-2 (1st in NHL) with a 1.96 goals against-average (5th) and a .935 save percentage (3rd).
HUSHED SUBBAN: Speaking of Subban, meanwhile, brushed his previous spat with Flyers captain Mike Richards under the rug. Richards called the Canadiens' rookie defenseman out on the Flyers' last trip to Montreal, calling him cocky.
Subban, if you remember, was barred from speaking to the media after the Canadiens' morning skate on their last trip to Philly - perhaps for fear that he'd say something he shouldn't.
"All that stuff's in the past," Subban told reporters on Wednesday morning. "All teams want is to win and get the two points. I think that's all said and done and over with."
We'll see tonight.
NO LINEUP CHANGES: The Flyers are expected to keep their lineup the same tonight, as forward Jody Shelley serves the final game of his two-game suspension. Shelley is eligible to return for the Flyers' matinee against the Rangers, his former team, on Saturday.
When we hear of tonight's starting goalie, we'll post it here.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers
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