Biron flawless in Flyers 2-0 win over Kings
Although Flyers coach John Stevens will not say it, goaltending auditions are in session. With a little over six weeks left in the regular season, the Flyers have not established who will be their go-to goalie down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Although Flyers coach John Stevens will not say it, goaltending auditions are in session.
With a little over six weeks left in the regular season, the Flyers have not established who will be their go-to goalie down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Every game is a tryout of sorts.
Last night, it was Marty Biron's turn, and he rebounded nicely from a disastrous ending against Pittsburgh on Saturday.
In one of his best performances of the season, Biron made 34 saves as the Flyers outlasted the Los Angeles Kings, 2-0, before a sellout crowd at the Wachovia Center.
It was Biron's second shutout of the season and the 25th of his career.
The Flyers eventually figure to go with the hot goalie in the playoffs, coach John Stevens said, but having late-season competition may not be a bad thing.
On Tuesday, Antero Niittymaki was excellent in a 4-2 statement win in Washington.
"It's a credit to both Nitty and Marty that they can come in and play so well in what is going to be a very important week for us," Stevens said after the Flyers moved to within four points of first-place New Jersey in the Atlantic Division. "I met with both of these guys in the beginning of the week and told them they'll both get a chance to play and they need to be our best players - and I think arguably the last two nights, they have been."
The fatigued, turnover-plagued Flyers were outshot, 34-20, but Biron was the difference.
The offense consisted of Jeff Carter's power-play goal late in the second period and Simon Gagne's empty-net goal with one second left.
Setting up Carter's goal was Joffrey Lupul, the subject of trade rumors. Florida general manager Jacques Martin was at the game, and he had trade discussions about standout defenseman Jay Bouwmeester with Flyers GM Paul Holmgren.
Lupul batted a puck in front of the net that deflected off goalie Erik Ersberg's left arm and off the left post. Carter, stationed near the goal line by that post, swatted it out of the air and into the net to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 3 minutes, 49 seconds left in the second period.
"Lupes made a great play, just driving it and crashing it, and I was lucky to find a loose puck," Carter said after his 36th goal.
As for the current two-goalie system, Stevens is all for it. For now.
"With Marty and Nitty, they respect each other a lot; they get along well," Stevens said. "If you had some animosity between the goalies, there might be some dissension there, but that's certainly not the case here. We're leading into the month of March and we play 15 games in the month. We have three weeks where we play four games, and I think it's a real luxury to have a rested goalie come in and keep both guys sharp."
After the game, Niittymaki and Biron exchanged fist bumps and back slaps in the locker room. Clearly, they are united.
"I don't like not playing. Nitty doesn't like not playing. That's normal," said Biron, who made 12 of his saves on the Kings' five power plays. "But to be creating bad blood in the locker room, that's not the case. I've seen it happen in other locker rooms and those things don't work."
The Kings, who scored a 2-1 shoot-out win over Niittymaki and the visiting Flyers on Jan. 3, held a territorial edge for most of the game despite arriving at their hotel about 3:30 a.m. from Minnesota.
"I was proud of the way we played. We played a hard game along the boards and that's the kind of game you have to play against the Flyers," said first-year Kings coach Terry Murray, who served stints as a Flyers head coach and assistant. "We had our looks and had our opportunities, but Marty was really good tonight."
Biron, excited that his name will be placed on the Flyers' dressing-room wall because of his 25th shutout, was especially effective preventing many rebounds.
"There were a lot of pucks he just absorbed and held onto," Stevens said, "and that's a pretty good indication to me that he's gaining confidence."
Sam Carchidi's Flyers blog: http://go.philly.com/bsbEndText