IN THIS MOST remarkable hockey season, seven different men put on the goaltender pads and their Flyers sweaters and skated onto the ice surface, ready for action.
If you don't remember that Carter Hutton was one of the seven, you're not alone. Bonus points if you remembered Sebastien Caron. Or Jeremy Duchesne.
Offseason savior Ray Emery started the season in net, backed up by Brian Boucher. But Emery was injured in December and needed abdominal surgery. That started the revolving door of goalies that still hasn't stopped.
Boucher became the starter after Emery's injury. On Dec. 15, Michael Leighton was claimed off waivers, where he had been dumped by Carolina. Leighton's signing might have come as a surprise to Flyers fans who watched him allow six goals just 2 months earlier at the Wachovia Center in a 6-1 Hurricanes loss.
In December, Leighton was a career backup, a waiver-wire guy who could never seem to stick. Today, he and his teammates are four wins from sipping from the Stanley Cup, the toast of the town you could say.
After Leighton was signed, Boucher was injured. Emery returned but suffered what could be a career-threatening hip injury in March. Leighton suffered a high-ankle sprain in March that put him out for 2 months.
The Flyers, desperate for points to help their playoff chances, pulled Johan Backlund from the Adirondack Phantoms and on March 27, there he was, the starting goalie in Pittsburgh staring down Sidney Crosby and the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Injuries continued in the playoffs. Boucher played every game in the first round against the Devils and played in five games against Boston. He hurt both of his knees in Game 5 against the Bruins - remarkably on the first day Leighton was on the bench as his backup, healthy again and dressed in his orange and white sweater.
Leighton picked up where he left off, winning Games 6 and 7 against Boston and recording three shutouts against Montreal in the Eastern Conference finals. It is just another remarkable aspect of this Flyers' team: at their most vulnerable position, Leighton has turned out to be their most valuable player.