In many Stanley Cup winning teams of the past few decades, there has been a great or very good goalie to go along with them. Perhaps this is another reason why the Flyers have not won the Cup for a long time. The last time the Flyers had a brilliant goalie was when Ron Hextall was on the team.
Don’t get me wrong, Martin Biron is a good goalie. However, he is not the type of goalie that is sought after when a team is building a Stanley Cup Champion. That being said, let’s look at the top two goalies in the Flyers’ organization, and the up and coming talent at this important position in hockey:
Martin Biron, G, $3.5 million- 62 GP, 3539 Min, 2.59 GAA, 30-20-9, 5 SO, .918 SVP- Biron is a very capable goalie, and Flyers’ fans saw that last season when he carried them to the Eastern Conference Finals, what seemed single-handedly (even though it wasn’t). His acrobatics and his unbelievable clutch play earned the Flyers a spot in the Final Four for the first time since 2004, when they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games.
Unfortunately, they were unable to beat the mighty Penguins, but that can be understood, since Marty Biron cannot be expected to stop Sid, Geno, and the rest of the Pens, especially when top defenseman Kimmo Timonen was injured.
However, he is capable of putting up a 35-win season next year, and putting the Flyers in a position to get home advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Antero Niittymaki, G, $1.225 million- 28 GP, 1424 Min, 2.91 GAA, 12-9-2, 1 SO, .907 SVP- Niitty has not been the same since the 2006 Turin Olympics, in which he lost the gold medal game to rival Henrik Lundqvist and Team Sweden. He is not the same clutch goaltender that he was beforehand, which ultimately led to the trade that brought Marty Biron to Philadelphia.
Niitty does not need to be a star goalie for this team. He simply needs to be counted on to be consistent when he plays his 25-30 games this year. He needs to be able to put up at least 15 wins in those games he plays, although I do not believe that he will.
Look out for:
Brad Phillips, 19 years old. Phillips is a very young goalie who was taken in the seventh round last year by the Flyers. He posted a .917 save percentage and a 2.18 goals against average last year in 11 games. He is a great young guy who at some point in the next 3-4 years will be brought up to the AHL to train to take over for Martin Biron when he retires. Look for this to happen by 2014.
GP W L OL GAA SVP SO
Martin Biron 62 35 18 5 2.42 .918 6
Antero Nittymaki 26 12 10 2 2.93 .902 1