Conference Finals Becoming One-Sided Affairs

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 18: Michael Leighton #49 of the Philadelphia Flyers reacts after defeating the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 3-0 to win Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Wachovia Center on May 18, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Who is Michael Leighton?  To be honest, I didn't know until this morning.  After the Philadelphia Flyers shut out the Montreal Canadiens for the second time in as many games, I figured I had better find out.  Leighton, it turns out, is a rarely-used backup who came over to Philly from Carolina during the regular season.  He's played only 103 regular season games during his six-year career, and has a career save percentage of .902. 

This season, playing as the Flyers' backup temporary starter,  he finished with a solid 17-9-2 record, but mediocre numbers otherwise: 2.83 GAA and .905 SV%.  But since starter Brian Boucher hurt his MCL during the series against the Boston Bruins, Leighton has found some other-worldly ability in net.  He's got a 4-0 record in five games, two shutouts, a 0.87 GAA and a SV% of .969.  He held the Flyers together as they overcame a three-game deficit to the Bruins and now he's shut out the talented Canadiens twice.  This is the stuff the Conn Smythe trophy is awarded for.

The Chicago Blackhawks were a favorite of many people to make a deep run for the Stanley Cup this year, and so far, they're fulfilling those predictions.  Last night, they beat the San Jose Sharks 4-2 in the second game of the Western Conference Finals, extending their series lead to 2-0.  The Sharks, perennial chokers, look to have finally run out of good luck.  That said, a lot can still happen, and the series isn't over yet.

There are no games scheduled tonight.  It seems strange to me that the NHL would schedule both the Western and Eastern Conference finals to be played on the same nights, instead of alternating and giving hockey fans something to watch every day.  I don't remember this being the case before this year.  I could be wrong.

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