Flyers Beat Kings, and Here’s Why Michael Leighton is Awful

Leighton_goal

In case you missed it late last night, the Flyers beat the Kings, 7-4.  Overall the team played very well, with only a few mental lapses, one of which resulted in a goal for the Kings (delayed penalty where the Flyers couldn't gain possession).

But the real story was the struggles of Michael Leighton.  As I wrote yesterday, and most likely a dozen times in the Spring, Michael Leighton is not very good.  He is slow getting across the net, has a gaping five hole, and, for some reason, cannot figure out how to hug the post.  All three of those problems were present last night.

Just a few minutes into the game, LA's Ryan Smyth snuck one through Leighton's legs, from behind the net.  The end result was a goal that was eerily similar to Patrick Kane's Stanley Cup Winner, but at least his was on a shot facing Leighton.  Smyth actually slung the puck to the crease area from behind the goal line.  It hit Leighton's left skate and went in.

Leighton_legs

Uhh.

And here's where Smyth released the puck from:

Leighton_legs1

Yes, he scored on a no-look backhand from behind the net in the corner.  What if Michael Leighton wasn't awful?  History will be made.

Granted, this was Leighton's first game since June, but he has now let up two impossible-angle goals in the span of three NHL minutes.  Simply amazing.

Justin Williams netted the second goal midway through the first.  Again, he was at a tough angle.  

Leighton_legs2

Leighton opened his legs just long enough to let this one slip through.  Like a freshman at a frat party.

Lavs is horrified:

Leighton_lavs

Again, it was Leighton's inability to secure the five hole and close-off the side of the net (hug the post!) that cost him.  He had that puck blocked, but it slipped through.

Here's Ryan Smyth again:

Leighton_legs3

Somehow, Smyth banged this in between Leights' legs.  My God, have some self respect!

Watch him play for one period.  Even when the puck is buried deep in the corner, Big Bear's body is still facing almost completely forward.  There is always a gap between his mid-section and the post and between his towering legs.  Seen here on Smyth's first goal:

Leighton_legs6

And that position ends in this, with the puck in the back of the net:

Leighton_legs5

These are fundamentals taught to goalies in high school: Seal-off the side of the net.

If that wasn't enough, he is almost nonchalant about going side-to-side. Take a look when a puck is reversed behind the net, you will almost find yourself screaming "get over there!"  He has the lateral quickness of a bear in water.  There is always a hole between his legs, and rarely does he ever recognize or recover quickly enough to close off the side of the net.

Read Stevie Why's recap, or watch these goals and the rest of the highlights.  The choice, it's yours.

Broad Street Hockey has a similar take on Leighton, with the painful video of Patrick Kane slipping our wants and desires through Leighton's legs.

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16 Comments

  • Matthew Carson December 31, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Okay, all the problems you listed are real, but here’s a YOUNG goaltender, who has room for improvement. Stop calling him horrible….he’s not. We got the win, thats what matters.

    Reply
  • Matt December 31, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    He’s not young, he’s almost 30, the Flyers should have won 7-1 not 7-4, Johnson’s shot was the only unstoppable one.

    Reply
  • Kyle Scott December 31, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Young?? He’s 29 and has been playing professional hockey for 8 years. The win is great, but ultimately having Michael Leighton as a goalie will be more impactful.

    Reply
  • Justin December 31, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    the smyth goal reminded me more of bolland in game 5 than kane in game 6, go to 1:00 of this clip

    Reply
  • Kyle Scott December 31, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    oh god. i forgot about that goal. hug the post!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Ayydan December 31, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    God thats frusterating

    Reply
  • Lauren December 31, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    he got the win because the rest of the team actually played for once and scored goals. if he’s giving up 4 goals in a game all the time, the odds of him picking up wins is not very good at all. he needs to learn how to hug the post, those type of goals at this level make him look horrible. he played awful. he knows that.

    Reply
  • Snevik December 31, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    I agree that Leighton has movement/post/rebound control problems. He actually improved in all facets throughout last year. This, on the other hand, is his first NHL game this year, returning from injury. Probably not the best sample size.
    I don’t think he’s a great goaltender, but he’s certainly a passable backup, and was an excellent 1B last year. Our team didn’t need any better. And while it’s clear he is no longer our best goalie, I’m not going to say he’s our worst, if only because he outplayed (an albeit unlucky) Boucher for most of last year.

    Reply
  • Bobert Smith December 31, 2010 at 1:20 pm

    To quote someone from some Flyers blog: Michael Leighton has the lateral quickness of a panda bear.

    Reply
  • Kyle Scott December 31, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Where did you read that? I’ve always called him a bear in water, never saw the panda reference. Samesies, I suppose.

    Reply
  • Howard December 31, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I watched the game with a room full of Flyers fans last night and despite the win, we all came to the conclusion that Leighton is indeed, quite awful. Hopefully he is just rusty but these problems seem to be deeply seated so…he actually sucks.
    Anyways, the best part about the game last night was the scrapiness that’s been missing in the last two losses. This team is at their best when they play physical hockey and piss other teams off. Watching Richards get under Bernier’s skin all night was great.

    Reply
  • joe December 31, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    what happened to that other new goal we got?

    Reply
  • geoff December 31, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    bears are very fast…i’d say he plays goalie like a three toed sloth….look it up….

    Reply
  • Eric December 31, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Leighton’s legs are as about as wide open as a hooker’s in Kensington.

    Reply
  • Dsmith181 January 1, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    How soon we all forget the great games he played last year. Without him in top form we would have never got where we did.. To call him awful is ridiculous. He’s not great.. but he’s not awful

    Reply
  • Kyle Scott January 2, 2011 at 11:02 am

    Geoff-nice.

    Reply
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