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Common Goal

Thursday, 12.6.2007 / 5:40 PM ET / News
By Kevin Kurz  - philadelphiaflyers.com
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Common Goal
Biron, Niittymaki forming solid relationship

(Denver, CO) – Martin Biron knows the feeling.

Following Antero Niittymaki’s impressive 28-save performance in Wednesday night’s 3-1 win in Minnesota, Biron, himself a number two goalie for many years in Buffalo, was asked if his game can benefit from getting pushed by a solid performance from his backup.

Biron quickly responded that he doesn’t look at it that way; rather, a strong game from Niittymaki helps the entire team gain momentum.

“When I played a game [as the backup] and I got a big win and I got the team going, it didn’t put pressure on anybody. It just got momentum going,” explained Biron in the lobby of the team hotel in Colorado on Thursday afternoon. “Everybody felt good and knew that they were accomplishing something.
Antero Niittymaki made 28 saves in the Flyers' 3-1 win in Minnesota on Wednesday. (Getty Images)

“The way we played yesterday and the way Niitty played yesterday really helped everybody get on the right foot and go into tomorrow night’s game feeling good about the way we played and what we need to do to win. It doesn’t change what I have to do to win the game, but it definitely helps making everybody feel so much more comfortable.”

Being the goaltender that doesn’t get the majority of the playing time can be difficult at times, especially when that goaltender is playing well like Niittymaki is. Fortunately, Biron and Niittymaki have been building a solid foundation and friendship since Biron’s arrival last season.

That rapport between the two is key not just for the goaltenders themselves, but for the team as a whole.

“You can never have a successful team or goalie without that relationship being good,” said Biron. “I found that out playing in Buffalo and being in the ‘two’ role. Niitty and I get along extremely well and work extremely well together.

“When I was playing behind Ryan [Miller] in Buffalo and getting a chance to play and play well, it was for the team first and myself second. It wasn’t for me to try to make a push or put pressure on the other guy. That’s really not what you’re hoping to do.”

John Stevens remembers his days coaching Niittymaki with the Phantoms, when the goaltender and then-backup Neil Little were close friends. The team ended up winning the Calder Cup that season in 2005.

“I think Niitty and Marty have a really good relationship,” said Stevens. “They root for each other when the other guy is in net and have real strong team values. They are both competitive guys and want to play well for their team. I think it’s important for us to have two goalies playing well.”

The momentum built by Niittymaki’s performance will hopefully carry over for the Flyers into Friday night’s game with the Avalanche (9:00 p.m., CW-57). Philadelphia has alternated wins and losses for the last eight games, and is 8-6-2 since the start of November.

Biron will be trying to rebound from his last outing: a 4-1 loss at home to Dallas in which the entire team struggled.

“Every time he’s not his best he’s bounced back and been really good,” said Stevens, who added that many times Biron’s losses are not entirely his fault, by saying, “the impact on his game has a little bit to do with the way we play, as well.”

Now, Biron will just try and continue the momentum that Niittymaki built with the victory in Minnesota as Philadelphia will try for consecutive victories for the first time since November 10-12.

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 x - NYR 74 47 20 7 226 172 101
2 MTL 75 46 21 8 197 167 100
3 TBL 76 46 23 7 244 198 99
4 PIT 75 41 23 11 207 188 93
5 NYI 76 44 27 5 230 211 93
6 DET 74 40 22 12 216 201 92
7 WSH 75 40 25 10 218 186 90
8 BOS 75 37 25 13 199 195 87
9 OTT 73 37 25 11 213 195 85
10 FLA 74 34 26 14 184 202 82
11 PHI 76 30 29 17 198 219 77
12 CBJ 74 35 35 4 203 230 74
13 NJD 74 31 31 12 166 189 74
14 CAR 73 27 36 10 170 201 64
15 TOR 75 27 42 6 194 241 60
16 BUF 74 20 46 8 141 249 48

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 76 21 55 7 76
C. Giroux 75 23 46 2 69
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
M. Streit 75 9 36 -10 45
B. Schenn 76 14 25 -7 39
S. Couturier 76 13 17 1 30
M. Del Zotto 58 9 20 -5 29
M. Read 74 7 22 -7 29
M. Raffl 61 20 6 7 26
V. Lecavalier 52 7 11 -10 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 15 17 11 .927 2.24
R. Emery 10 10 6 .892 3.15
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