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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 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
C. Giroux 78 22 45 -8 67
W. Simmonds 81 32 28 -7 60
B. Schenn 80 26 33 3 59
J. Voracek 73 11 44 -5 55
S. Gostisbehere 64 17 29 8 46
S. Couturier 63 11 28 8 39
M. Raffl 82 13 18 9 31
M. Read 79 11 15 -5 26
M. Streit 62 6 17 -1 23
S. Laughton 71 7 14 -2 21
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 23 19 10 .918 2.51
M. Neuvirth 18 8 4 .924 2.27
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