Ville Leino has been a revelation.
Since entering the active line up in game 5 of the Stanley Cup Quarterfinals against the New Jersey Devils, the 27-year old Finnish winger has amassed 15 playoff points (six goals, nine assists) to tie a Flyers franchise record for rookie scoring set by Brian Propp in 1980.
This secret to his success?
“A lot of ice time,” Leino told the Finnish Press after Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. “That’s what I’ve been trying to say. When you get to play, you get confidence and that’s the most important thing.”
If ice time is what gets Leino going, it’s no secret to Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, who gave the rookie a whopping 23:12 of ice time — a game high for his position. That’s over a minute more than Flyers captain Mike Richards and 46 seconds more than Chicago’s Jon Toews.
“I started to feel it a little in the overtime”, he admitted.
But he apparently didn’t feel it in the third period. The Savonlinna native didn’t waste the extra time given when he tied the game at three on a rebound goal, 3:10 into the third period. Tallying just 20 seconds after Chicago’s Patrick Kane gave his team the advantage on a breakaway, Leino’s goal may have very well saved the game and the Flyers’ season.
“It was probably the best game of my NHL career,” said Leino, who was acquired from cap-strapped Detroit for defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. “At least it happened in the best possible situation.”
Game 3 was just one more example of Leino’s dominance when relied upon.
“He has an incredible skill level and he sees the ice really well,” Laviolette said of his game-changing player. “I would like to thank (GM) Paul Holmgren for the fantastic acquisition.”
So would every Flyers fan.
Thanks goes out to Euro Flyers for the translation help.