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Examining the Philadelphia Flyers goaltenders

by John McGourty

Complete Flyers Analysis:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards
Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster

Who's No. 1?

The Flyers addressed the goaltending situation by trading a second-round draft pick in February to the Buffalo Sabres to get Martin Biron and quickly signed him to a two-year contract. They also resigned backup Antero Niittymaki and brought back free agent Brian Boucher. Scott Munroe has moved to the top of the depth chart with the Phantoms while the futures of 2006-07 Phantom's goalies Rejean Beauchemin and Martin Houle are not as bright as a year ago. Munroe and Houle are listed on the Phantoms' roster. Beauchemin, who was loaned out to ECHL Bakersfield, is not listed on any rosters.

Biron, 29, went 18-12-3 with a 3.03 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage. That means he stopped a lot of shots for a team that gave up a lot of goals. He was 6-8-2 for the Flyers with a 3.02 GAA and .908 save percentage. So, he was a little sharper with Philly than Buffalo but the results were not as good.

Biron broke in with the Sabres in 1996. He is 140-123-31 in 316 NHL games with a 2.55 GAA and .909 save percentage. He was Buffalo's starter on several occasions but lost the job to Dominic Hasek and Ryan Miller, pretty good goalies.

Niittymaki hasn't been the same since suffering an injury at the 2006 Winter Olympics. He had gained the starting job in Philadelphia and was looking pretty good prior to that. He performed heroically last year, manning the net although he needed further surgery in May. The signing of Biron took away some of the pressure.

Backup plan

Niittymaki hasn't been the same since he was injured during the 2006 Winter Olympics, when he led Finland to the sliver medal. He had won the starting job in Philadelphia, but lost it last season and needed surgery in May. The signing of Biron took away some of the pressure.

Niittymaki, 26, had a 9-29-9 record with a 3.38 GAA and .894 save percentage in 52 games for the Flyers last season. Over parts of three Flyers' seasons, Niittymaki has a 35-44-15 record, 3.12 GAA and .896 save percentage in 101 career games. He went 5-1 at the 2006 Olympics, losing the gold medal game.

Boucher may have been signed to start the season with the AHL Philadelphia Phantoms, but he provides insurance if Biron or Niittymaki falters. Boucher has been inconsistent during his NHL career, leading his team to the playoffs as a rookie before faltering, then coming back to set an NHL record for consecutive shutout minutes in Phoenix before faltering again. He's back home on the East Coast and may have the experience and skills to challenge for a roster spot.

In the Wings

Scott Munroe -- He has moved to the top of the depth chart with the Phantoms. Munroe benefited from an extensive conditioning program to advance to the starting position with the Phantoms last season, his first as a pro after three seasons at the University of Alabama-Huntsville.

Martin Houle -- Houle was the best goaltender in the Quebec League three years ago and the best defensive player two years ago. He has seen a lot of rubber with two struggling Phantom teams, but the Flyers still believe in him.

Rejean Beauchemin -- Beauchemin was used a lot as a practice goaltender last season, getting called up to the Flyers three times without playing a game. He played in only nine games for the Phantoms before he was loaned to the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors in February.

Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren on Philadelphia's goaltending:

"We realize that last year was a down year for everybody, including Antero (Niittymaki). We feel that our goaltending, along with Marty Biron, is strong, and we are excited to have both of them under contract."

1. Biron has never played in a Stanley Cup Playoff game.

2. Niittymaki was the MVP when the Phantoms won the 2005 Calder Cup.

3. Munroe made the CHA All-Rookie team in 2003 and was a First Team All Star in 2005.'s 2007-08 Flyers Season Preview Package:
Intro | Goalies | Defense | Forwards | Feature | Numbers | Sked | Roster


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