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Sharks sign Boucher as backup plan

by John McGourty / NHL.com

Brian Boucher had a 23-16-1 record with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in the AHL this season.
The San Jose Sharks added a veteran backup goaltender by signing Brian Boucher to a one-year contract. Boucher has played well in the American Hockey League this season.

Evgeni Nabokov has played in 60 of San Jose's 62 games this season while rookie backup Thomas Greiss, 22, has played in only three games, his only NHL experience, and lost two. Dimitri Patzold, now with AHL Worcester, played in parts of three games without a decision.

Boucher, 31, signed a contract last fall to play with the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms. He was among the AHL goaltending leaders until his team hit a slump in January. Boucher had a 23-16-1 record with a 2.47 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage.

Boucher currently has the 13th-best GAA in the AHL, but he was among the league leaders through Jan. 12 when he had a 2.17 GAA. His team lost the next game, 5-0, and has been playing higher-scoring games since then.

Boucher last played in the NHL in 2006-07, when he went 2-11 with the Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets. He began his NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1999 when he went 20-10-3 and was named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. He has also played since for the Phoenix Coyotes and Calgary Flames.

Boucher is 77-96-30 in 220 NHL games, with a 2.79 career GAA and .897 save percentage. He has an 11-8 record with a 2.07 GAA and a .916 save percentage in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with one shutout in 21 games.

The graduate of Mount St. Charles High School in Woonsocket, R.I., which also produced NHL players Mathieu Schneider and Bryan Berard, was the Flyers' first-round pick, 22nd overall, in the 1995 Entry Draft.

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Boucher has been among the NHL's best goalies at times and maddeningly ineffective at other times. He was tremendous in his rookie season when he took the Flyers to the Eastern Conference championship, where they lost in six games to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He stumbled the next year, but bounced back in 2001-02. He was the backup during the first-round series against Ottawa when the Flyers scored only twice in five games and starter Roman Cechmanek flipped out at his teammates in Game 4. Boucher lost the concluding Game 5, 2-1, and ripped the team and organization, which resulted in a trade to Phoenix during the offseason.

Boucher struggled with a Coyotes team that failed to make the playoffs in his three years there, but he did set the NHL record with a shutout sequence of 332:01 minutes, or 5 1/2 games, during the 2003-04 season.

The Phantoms should be able to handle Boucher's departure due to the development of goalie Scott "Money" Munroe, who is 14-4-1 with an AHL third-best 2.12 GAA and .922 save percentage. The Flyers promoted Martin Houle from ECHL Wheeling. They also have goalies Rejean Beauchemin and Jeremy Duchesne at ECHL Dayton.

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