Goalie battle: Biron's turn at the controls; Lupul hot, Carter struggling

   For several weeks, Marty Biron and Antero Niittymaki have been in a friendly battle for the Flyers' No. 1 goalie spot.

   And every time it looks like Niittymaki is about to emerge as the team's go-to guy, he comes out flat. (See Thursday's four-goal first period against Calgary.)

    That's opened things for Biron, and the 31-year-old veteran has taken advantage. He was superb in a two-period relief appearance against Calgary _ allowing one goal in 22 shots _ and last night he was sharp again in a 4-1 win over Nashville.

    That surely figures to earn him a start Tuesday against his former club, Buffalo.

     Biron has lowered his GAA to 2.79 and raised his save percenatge to .912.

   With just 18 games left in the regular season, the Flyers hope he is heating up just in time.

    By the way, if the season ended last night, the Flyers would face Florida in the first round.  The Flyers have split a pair of close decisions with the Panthers this season, scoring a 3-2 shoot-out win and dropping a 3-2 decision. Both games were in Florida.

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    Joffrey Lupul is relieved the trade deadline has gone and he's still a Flyer.

    To show his relief, he scored his 19th and 20 goals in Saturday's win over Nashville.

    Lupul said the fact his name was mentioned in trade talks didn't affect his play, but he conceded, "I was a little bit nervous that (trade-dealine) day, but on the ice you’re still playing the game. You’re playing to win. It doesn’t matter if there are rumors or not, so I don’t think that was a big factor in the couple of goals" Saturday.

     "I’m happy to still be here, but the whole time I was thinking I was still going to be here," he said. "It wasn’t like my mindset was I’m already out of town, so obviously I’m happy it’s over, past and (I) look forward to the stretch here. The playoffs, it’s an exciting time of year.”

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  Jeff Carter once was on pace to become the seventh player in Flyers history to score 50 goals in a season.

  But Carter has struggled recently and needs 14 goals in 18 games to reach the milestone. He leads the Flyers with 36 goals but has just two goals in his last 12 games.

  The Flyers who have reached 50 in a season: Rick MacLeish, Bill Barber, Reggie Leach, Tim Kerr, Mark Recchi and John LeClair.