Brian Boucher, Sergei Bobrovsky
Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Boucher, top, leaves the game and is replaced by Sergei Bobrovsky, bottom, of Russia, during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks in Vancouver, British Columbia, on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darryl Dyck) Darryl Dyck

Brian Boucher is a great story.

Entering the season, many people questioned whether the 34-year-old Flyers goalie even belonged in the NHL. But at the midway point, he's fifth in the league with a 2.23 goals-against average (albeit in just 17 starts).

Boucher has started three straight (all wins) in place of rookie Sergei Bobrovsky. Perhaps his best performance was Saturday against New Jersey, when the only goal he allowed came on a bizarre deflection and he made several superb saves to preserve a 2-1 win.

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All that said, Boucher is not the Flyers' starter going forward.

When the Flyers sent Michael Leighton to the minors last week, the focus was all on Leighton, a playoff hero last season, being the odd man out.

But the more telling aspect of that move is that the Flyers kept Bobrovsky with the NHL club.

If Bobrovsky was not their starting goalie going forward, he would have been the one sent down. A 22-year-old rookie needs to get work, not to be sitting on the bench for long stretches.

Leighton was rusty, but he could have served as an adequate backup to Boucher in that case.

But the Flyers' plan clearly is to give Bobrovsky some time off after he struggled a bit last month, and then reinsert him as the starter.

Boucher is a nice player having a nice season. But this team will go only as far as the more talented Bobrovsky can take it.

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