The Stanley Cup playoffs have been more than a dream ride for Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Michael Leighton.
Since coming in in relief of injured teammate Brian Boucher in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, the Petrolia, Ont., native has won seven games and collected three shutouts along the way.
''It was definitely a pressure situation, and I think that's why I'm not that nervous right now'' Leighton said of being granted a chance of a lifetime.
Boucher was Philadelphia's post-season starter until he sprained ligaments in both of his knees against the Boston Bruins in the second round.
''It's been unbelievable,'' Boucher said of Leighton's play. ''The guy hadn't played in two months and was thrown into a real tough situation in Boston and passed with flying colours.''
But the road to the Stanley Cup final was long and challenging for Leighton. He has been the property of seven NHL teams and has played twice as many games in the American Hockley League than in the National Hockey League.
Ironically, Leighton recently beat the Montreal Canadiens, a team that once owned his rights, and now faces a team that drafted him in 1999. All this while playing for a club that already discarded him away once this season.
''Obviously I've been tossed around a lot,'' Leighton said. ''I did my duty in the AHL [and] this is something that I dreamed about my whole life - playing for the Stanley Cup. I'm here and I'm trying not to think about the past and what I've been through.''
Despite being traded away after only 42 games with the Blackhawks, Leighton is looking forward to playing against the team that drafted him. He harbours no hard feelings, but says it does amp up his motivation.
''I'm excited to play them just because of that,'' he said. ''I take it as a challenge and I want revenge in a way, but I know they have a good team. It's going to be a good series.''
Boucher practiced with teammates for the first time on Wednesday. He said that there is still a little bit of pain, but that it feels good. He said there is a chance he will dress Saturday in Game 1 in Chicago.
With files from TSN Reporter Sheri Forde.