Flyers Fans Hear This: The Philadelphia Flyers haven’t had a true No. 1 goalie since grunge rocked the airwaves and Hypercolor shirts rocked the playgrounds -- the early 1990s.
This isn't news to the Flyers-faithful.
Since Ron Hextall's first departure from Philadelphia in 1992, the Flyers have had a cycle of hopeful superstar goalies.
Yet, time and time again, fans have watched their net minders shine bright for a time only to eventually fade into the realm of the ordinary and mediocre.
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Once again that vicious cycle has struck Martin Biron.
Biron, who last season, rode stellar late-season play right into the playoffs guiding his team to all the way to Eastern Conference Finals.
But 08-09 has brought the veteran back to earth from last season's high. Inconsistency has been the only thing consistent for Biron this season.
He’s had more ups and downs then a roller coaster… Win four… lose four… win two… lose two.
But wait, there’s more.
His backup (supposedly) Antero Niittymaki knows Biron’s twist of fate all too well.
Niittymaki, unlike Biron, came up in the Flyers system with the Phantoms and got his opportunity during the 05-06 season.
Niittymaki took over for Robert Esche (remember him?) while Esche was sidelined with injuries.
Nitty opened many eyes and in 06-07 won the job from Esche outright. But in the end, his health became an issue and the Flyers traded for Biron.
Fast forward the tape to February 2009 and here we are again with the same questions.
Who is the Flyers number one goalie? Who will be the man to lead the Flyers in the playoffs?
Niittymaki has played well at times this season but has been plagued with the same inconsistency as Biron.
Even coach John Stevens has implied that he doesn’t know who will be in goal come playoff time.
But Biron has made a powerful case for himself with two back-to-back postseason-worthy performances against the Islanders and Rangers this weekend.
Biron was just sweet and lovely on Valentines’ Day, swatting aside 38 of 39 shots on goal on against the Isles. He followed that up by stopping 35 of 37 on Sunday against the Rangers (who are closely battling the Flyers for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference).
Big-time performances in big-time games make Biron the flavor of the week.
It is becoming clear that Coach Stevens is going to ride the hot hand into the playoffs, which really is the only short-term solution.
At some point the Flyers will have to find their long-term solution between the pipes.
The New Jersey Devils have had main starting goalie since 1993 -- Martin Brodeur. During that time they've won three Stanley Cups.
The only way the Flyers can think of hoisting the Stanley Cup is if they find their own Brodeur-type goalie.
In that same time period here’s the EXTENSIVE list of Flyers’ anointed starting goalies
- Garth Snow
- Ron Hextall (again)
- John Vanbiesbrouck
- Sean Burke
- Brian Boucher
- Roman Cechmanek
- Robert Esche
- Antero Niittymaki
- Marty Biron.
That just about sums it up. The Flyers have had nine "starting" goalies in 16 years -- the Devils just one.
Yet all those goalies haven't brought the Flyers Lord Stanley's Cup like Brodeur has done for the Devils.
So, back to who is going to start between the pipes in the playoffs?