The noisiest part of the Flyers locker room is near the stall that belongs to Marty Biron.

Following each game and each practice, the goalie begins shedding his body armor by unraveling what seems like six miles of tape wrapped around each ankle, producing a sound similar to a swarm of bees. When finished - and it takes a while - Biron rolls the tape into the size of a softball.

At the same time he performs this ritual, the loquacious native of Lac-St.-Charles, Quebec, with the ice blue eyes is frequently chatting with someone, anyone.

Asked why he covers the top of his skates and his socks with clear tape, Biron shrugs.

"Everybody does something they feel comfortable with," he said. "It's like somebody who likes to tie his shoes tight. Then there are guys who like to wear sneakers without laces. I started doing it, and it felt good."

Just how comfortable will Biron feel in the cauldron of the playoffs? The answer is crucial to whether the Flyers can get past Washington in the first round that begins tomorrow at the Verizon Center.

It's the rare 30-year-old goalie with the equivalent of seven full seasons in the NHL who has never experienced a playoff game. But that's Biron.

An NHL playoff axiom as old as ice is that a team must have superb goaltending to make a serious run at the Stanley Cup. And if they had their druthers, players would prefer to skate in front of a goalie with playoff experience.

"If there's one player who's the biggest player on your team, it's your goalie," veteran defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "It's the truth. It's hard to say that, but it's the truth."

Biron has no track record to suggest how he'll perform in the playoffs. The three seasons he was the primary goalie for Buffalo - from 2001-02 to 2003-04 - the Sabres didn't make the playoffs. Following the lockout season, he became the backup to Ryan Miller before the Flyers acquired him for a second-round draft pick Feb. 27, 2007.

Yet he doesn't seem the least concerned.

"If I was concerned, then I wouldn't be ready for playoff hockey," he said. "It doesn't matter what you've accomplished or not. Once you get in the playoffs, it's a [blank] sheet, and that's how you have to think."

Biron said he got a healthy dose of the intense atmosphere of the playoffs the final three weeks of the regular season as the Flyers strained to make the postseason. They went into Friday's game against New Jersey in ninth place. From start to finish, the Flyers played their best defensive game of the season against the Devils. Biron got a 3-0 shutout and seemed unflustered by the pressurized atmosphere. He goes into the playoffs with back-to-back shutouts and a 5-1-1 record in his last seven games.

"It was harder than anything you could think of," Biron said of the intense late-season drive to make the playoffs. "The last two, three weeks, we felt like we had to win every game because everyone else was winning. So we had to play each game like it was a Game 7. I anticipate [the playoffs] will be like Friday night against New Jersey. It's about playing the game. It's as simple as that."

Fair or not, a goalie's worth is usually intertwined with his playoff performances. In that regard, Biron's career is just beginning.

"I feel like I'm entering the best years of my career," Biron said. "I've battled hard and played hard [in the past] and didn't get to the playoffs. It just didn't happen. I remember last year watching them on TV and I thought, I hope my time comes."

Since goalies are under constant pressure, Timonen said, Biron should be ready to deal with whatever the playoffs bring.

"I mean, obviously there's more pressure, but I'm sure he can handle that," Timonen said. "When you talk about goalies, they're under a lot of pressure all the time, and going into the playoffs I don't think that's going to affect him at all. Of course, experience helps, but we've all played a lot of games and it comes down more to work and focusing rather than experience, in my mind."

The Flyers do seem confident that Biron won't work himself into a tizzy because of the scrutiny he'll be receiving. That's simply not his nature. It was not unusual for the great Glenn Hall to get so worked up that he'd vomit before taking the ice. And there's a long list of goalies who become so irritable on game day that their teammates tiptoe around them.

But Biron's mood doesn't darken on game days.

"Some goalies are super-intense," Flyers coach John Stevens said. "There are goalies who really get quiet on game day, and you leave them alone, but Marty is a real talkative guy whether or not it's game day. He's pretty loose. Nothing seems to bother him. He has his own way of getting ready. He's a veteran guy, and he's excited about this opportunity."

Still unraveling tape, Biron said he felt no different on game day than any other day.

"I like to focus, but I'm pretty relaxed," he said. "I drive in and hang out with the guys, tape my sticks, watch some TV. I'm not on pins and needles. You get ready and you focus, but it doesn't mean you have to build a bubble around yourself."

Biron is convinced he steeled himself for the postseason by playing a succession of games in which the Flyers were desperate for wins. Back in Buffalo, he watched and learned from the bench. He feels good about himself physically and mentally. He's where he wants to be, and his time has come at long last.

"I'll tell you in a few months when I look back on" the playoffs, he said. "I'll tell you it was everything I thought it would be or it wasn't like I thought it would be."

Roll the tape.