kessel-bobrovsky

Philadelphia goalie Sergei Bobrovsky has been mostly impressive in his first NHL season, but the Flyers now have two veterans they can call upon if needed. ((Matt Slocum/Associated Press))

The more the better when it comes to goaltenders, according to Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren.

Holmgren admitted a week before the playoffs that the team tried to "sneak" Michael Leighton through re-entry waivers, and the gambit worked.

Leighton will be available for duty for Philadelphia if needed. The Flyers GM said he wanted to provide coach Peter Laviolette with options and depth at the key position.

Leighton was the surprise playoff goaltender in the Stanley Cup final after injuries befell Brian Boucher and Ray Emery last season. Leighton played very well at times in the post-season, but will also likely be forever linked with one of the worst championship clinching goals of all time, a softie from Patrick Kane that led to Chicago lifting the Stanley Cup.

The Flyers fell in six games to Chicago, ending a remarkable late season run that required a shootout win in the final game just to make the playoffs.

This time, Philadelphia enters as one of the Eastern favourites after a strong campaign. The Flyers managed to overcome a lengthy injury absence for top defenceman Chris Pronger late in the season.

The perception, accurately or not, is that Philadelphia's Stanley Cup dreams have been dashed a few times in the last 15 years primarily due to goaltending that was a cut below what is needed to succeed.

That said, even Holmgren doesn't know how it will play out with respect to the key position.

"Whether Michael … plays or not is up to the coach but certainly in terms of depth, having Michael in the mix is a good thing for us," said Holmgren.

Boucher is still around, but rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stumbled a bit late in the season after an impressive first half.

Cam Ward of Carolina and Antti Niemi of Chicago have shown since the lockout that a goalie isn't required to have playoff experience to win a Stanley Cup, but given Philadelphia's past luck in the crease, they're taking out some insurance.

Another change as Philadelphia heads to the playoffs is that players like Claude Giroux, and to a lesser extent, James van Riemsdyk aren't just considered secondary offensive support for the likes of Jeff Carter and captain Mike Richards.

Giroux, fifth on the team in points in 2009-10, led the team this season in assists and points. For his part, Van Riemsdyk was one of seven Flyers to go over 20 goals.

"Claude's really a guy who wants to have the puck in key situations and I don't see that changing [in the playoffs]," said Holmgren.

Giroux said the grind of last year's playoffs was invaluable.

"Guys know what to expect a little bit more and it's just the most exciting time of the season," the Hearst, Ont., native said.

"It's important that you find a way to motivate yourself and stay focused for the whole run," he added.

Giroux said the maturation of van Riemsdyk was evident this season and that they're counting on the Middletown, N.J., native come playoff time.

"You can see it on the ice. He's fast, he's got a great shot and he's got some hockey sense," Giroux said.

Last year, van Riemsdyk had six points in 21 playoff games and was a healthy scratch on a couple of occasions.

Both under 23, the young forwards may help the Flyers score enough in the playoffs that it won't matter who is in their crease.