Maybe this two-goalie system is going to work to the Flyers' advantage.
I know. I know. Conventional wisdom says a team needs to ride one goalie in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
True, but the late-season goalie competition that has been created _ by Marty Biron's inconsistency and Antero Niittymaki's steady play _ may be a blessing in disguise.
It is causing coach John Stevens to play both goalies and hoping one emerges as the clear-cut No. 1.
That should keep both goalies extra focused _ and sharp _ as the regular season winds down.
In the last two games, each goalie has been superb.
In the Flyers' 2-0 win over Los Angeles tonight, Biron made 34 saves and notched his second shutout of the season. It was also his 25th career shutout. The previous night, Niittymaki excelled in a 4-2 win at powerful Washington.
"That's the way you need it to be," said Biron when it was mentioned that both goalies have played like No. 1 performers in the last two games. "I really don't know of too many teams that get in the playoffs with only one guy really pulling the load. That's the way it's been. We push each other. Last night, was a great effort by Nitty. He kept us in the game with all those breakaways we gave them. Tonight, they just seemed to go my way, too. That's the way we want it to be."
Both goalies say they are pulling for each other.
"We both want to get in there and lead the team, but some nights you're going to have to be supportive and some nights you're going to go in there and you're going to have to do your job," Biron said.
Biron said the goalies aren't concerned about battling for the No. 1 spot.
"That's stuff we don't care about it here," he said. "We play a game. Who cares who is first line?....That's the way you've got to have a team to succeed."
Coach John Stevens was asked if he would consider using two goalies in the playoffs.
“My focus right now is getting our team into the playoffs," he said. "I think by that time, someone is going to take the lead role and then somebody is going to be the guy we count on."
So there you have it: Twenty-three games to decide who will play that leading role.
_ Sam Carchidi