Peter Laviolette has a nice problem. His club is sitting in a tie atop the Eastern Conference standings and he has two goaltenders who are playing well.
When the Russian wave that carried the Flyers eventually crested, Laviolette turned to Brian Boucher and the veteran has come up aces.
"That's what my job is, when I get tapped on the shoulder to play, I try to do my best and give my team a chance," Boucher said after helping the Flyers beat the Canadiens, 3-2. "Tonight they stayed with it and we got the two points."
Boucher stopped 29 shots in all and came up particularly big in the first period as Montreal had early jump in their skates and scored twice.
"The saves that he made in the first period were incredible," Laviolette said. "Two-on-ones, breakaways, point-blank chances. I mean he was sharp . . . It could have been 4-0, he was just tremendous."
The first goal Boucher gave up was a softie. He was screened by defenseman Sean O'Donnell, but Maxim Lapierre's knuckleball shot was still about 60 feet away and should have been turned aside. The other goal was another flicker by Lapierre that was deflected in by Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros.
A short memory is vital for a goaltender and Boucher survived similar chances especially late in the game; one came off the stick of Jaroslav Spacek, another off Brian Gionta.
"Yeah, there were some deflections in the third," he said. "I think my last two shots were deflected pretty good. We caught some good breaks there; obviously the second goal went off Mez' stick, which is a bad break, kind of on a nothing shot. But we caught some breaks at the end and held them off to get the win."
Boucher sat for 11 consecutive games while Sergei Bobrovsky rolled off a 9-1-1 mark. After the rookie staggered in consecutive starts last week, Laviolette went to his bullpen and summoned Boucher, the 33-year-old veteran who has seen and felt more lumps in his career than a TSA agent patting down airline passengers.
Boucher's career teetered as he bounced around between five NHL teams from 2005-09 before returning to the Flyers organization that drafted him in 1995. He split time last season with Michael Leighton and became one of the many heroes of the wild run to the Stanley Cup finals. Teammates legitimately root for Boucher.
"Boosh is a character guy," said Darroll Powe. "He's been positive the whole way here and he's been working really hard and played great for us when he's been in the net. I'm really happy to see that."
It was a nice win for the Flyers to get, especially after the Canadiens whitewashed them 3-0 up in Montreal last week. That game showed a crack in Bobrovsky's shell. Tampa Bay exposed it even more 2 nights later and Boucher was called in to finish the 8-7 loss. Boucher played well in the win over the Capitals on Saturday and followed it up with a nice outing last night.
Laviolette would not commit to a starting goaltender for tomorrow's game at Minnesota. He will think about it today as the Flyers make their way.
"Boosh played a terrific game . . . we have two great goalies," Laviolette said. "I'm not sure, I haven't gone that far with anything yet."
It's a good dilemma to have.