Laviolette's switch in Flyers goal surprises Boucher

Posted: October 08, 2010

PITTSBURGH - Brian Boucher was stunned. And, understandably, pretty disappointed when coach Peter Laviolette informed him Wednesday that he would not be the Flyers' starting goalie on opening night.

It didn't even seem like a possibility, for Boucher or anyone else, that Laviolette would tap Sergei Bobrovsky, a 22-year-old untested Russian netminder, for the job.

"I was a bit surprised," Boucher said. "I know Sergei had a great camp, and, obviously, it came down to a coach's decision and that's just the way it goes.

"I feel good about my training camp, so I don't think it's a reflection on that. It doesn't affect the way I think about myself."

Boucher and Bobrovsky posted the exact same save percentage and similar goals-against average stats in the preseason. But Boucher figured maybe, just maybe, his play that carried the Flyers not only into the postseason but halfway through the second round might have given him the benefit of the doubt.

Laviolette has shown little confidence in Boucher since taking over last December, except when Boucher has been pressed into service because of an injury.

"If I had a terrible camp, then maybe there would be some self-doubt," Boucher said. "But I had a great camp and I feel like last year, when it was on the line, I did what was asked. And I feel good about that."

Boucher said that Laviolette acknowledged he had a good camp but said he decided to "go with his gut."

"It's not just based on a day or 2," Laviolette said of Bobrovsky. "From the time he's been here, he's been sharp. Every game, every situation, every practice, every scrimmage, he's looked really good. We had to have a starting point somewhere. And I really like the way [Bobrovsky] has put together a body of work in the last month. He's been very sharp every day."

Even with the stunning decision, Boucher said it won't change how he operates. That's one of the reasons the 33-year-old has been able to survive going 3 months in between starts in a season and a trip to the AHL in the middle of his career.

"I've had so many challenges that it's just . . . not a big deal," Boucher said. "I come to the rink, I do my job and work hard. I need to be ready. Believe me, things can change on a dime."

Not missing Mellon

Brian Boucher had one of the best nights of his career in the old Mellon Arena, surviving the Flyers' five-overtime thriller back in 2000.

But he won't miss the leaking pipes, the cramped visitor's locker room and overall dirtiness of what was the NHL's oldest arena.

"It was just disgusting," Boucher said. "You were so happy when the game was over. I was actually glad when I was out West that I only had to go there once a year instead of in the division when I had to go there three times a year.

"There was like sand on the locker room floor, you couldn't even stretch. Honestly, the locker room was so small, some guys didn't even stretch before the game. It was that bad."

The new, $321 million Consol Energy Arena has now set a sparkling standard leaguewide. It seats 18,087 (the last two digits in honor of Sidney Crosby's number), about 1,000 more than the Igloo, and has 66 suites (in honor of honor Mario Lemieux).

The capacity crowd erupted before the game when Lemieux poured a glass of melted Mellon Arena ice on center ice to officially christen the new building.

Tangradi's home debut

Roxborough native and former Archbishop Carroll standout Eric Tangradi made his home NHL debut for the Penguins last night, logging 11 minutes, 40 seconds of ice time with Evgeni Malkin and Mike Comrie against his hometown Flyers.

Tangradi, 21, netted 39 points in 65 games with the AHL's Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last year. He played in the Penguins' final regular-season game on Long Island before making the team out of camp this year.

Pronger out

Chris Pronger decided to play it safe last night, sitting out the Flyers' opener since his surgically repaired knee is not completely ready. Pronger could be ready to play as early as tomorrow night in St. Louis, against one of his former teams.

"I think it just needs to get a little bit stronger," Pronger said. "I've only really had two real practices. I probably need a little more than that to play an NHL-caliber game."

Kick saves

Michael Leighton was officially added to the long-term injured reserve list yesterday. Leighton is eligible to come off the LTIR on Oct. 25 . . . Andreas Nodl was recalled from Adirondack and was a healthy scratch last night. Matt Walker was also a scratch, in favor of Oskars Bartulis . . . Former Flyer Arron Asham did not skate against his old mates last night. Asham is on the injured reserve with an undisclosed upper body injury.

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