if you're sitting there thinking antero who???, he is the flyers' number two goalie this season. last season, he was the number one goalie for the calder cup champion philadelphia phantoms of the american hockey league (because neil little sucks). and the season before, when the flyers' goalies (robert esche and jeff hackett) were both laid up with injuries, leaving the team to depend on AHL goalies neil little and antero nittymaki, nittymaki played three games with the big boys, coming away with a goals against average in the NHL of 1.00 - including one impressive performance against the rockin' new jersey devils. yep, he allowed only one goal in each of the three games he played. the funny thing is, the flyers started out with neil little instead of nittymaki, realized that little sucks much ass at the NHL level, and put in nittymaki. and now nittymaki sits on the bench in the wachovia center instead of across the street in the AHL building. i'm glad to see him there as esche's back-up. when chad and i went to tampa last december to see the phantoms play the springfield falcons, i was desperately hoping to see nittymaki in action up close and personal. but alas, the phantoms started little for that game.
but now i'm seeing nittymaki in the NHL. he started last night when the flyers played the devils. that was the plan even before esche allowed five goals against the damn rangers wednesday night. i must say, that game did not start out well. a couple of bad moves put chris therien (i'll talk about him a little more in a bit) in the sin bin and resulted in a couple of power play goals for the devils. the flyers' penalty kill needs much work. well, one of those goals nittymaki should have stopped. but the puck shouldn't have been near him. anyway, the flyers were scrambling, even when they didn't have a man in the box. their passes weren't working, and they had no puck control skills. and then the lovely simon gange put some life back into the game with one pretty goal and one goal that might not have been a goal (i was really surprised that they called it a goal - they didn't have an angle where you could see the puck, even though i was pretty sure it was in the net). the controversy turned out not to matter, as the flyers went on to score three more unanswered goals in the third period for a 5-2 win. needless to say, they got their act together. they really started clicking about midway through the second period. passes were getting through, their puck handling was better, their penalty kill improved by miles (turner stevenson even netted a short-handed goal on his former team), and they started getting a lot of shots through to marty brodeur. simon gange was awesome, as usual, and i think that knuble is going to work out better on the line with gange and forsberg than jeff carter did.
now let's talk about chris therien. i was a little surprised to see that guy back in philly, especially since he'd been traded away in the '03-'04 season. i wasn't sad to see him go then, and he's still making the same kinds of mistakes. now, he doesn't completely suck. he has some good qualities in a defenseman, particularly his size, but sometimes he makes bonehead decisions on the ice that cost his team big. he was making bonehead plays in '04, and he's still making bonehead plays now. but when he's on his game and thinking about what he's doing (and how hooking that guy or cross-checking that guy, or taking out the wrong guy will affect the team), he's pretty good... but the flyers definitely have better defenseman than therien. my biggest problem with him is that ken hitchcock keeps putting him on the ice with the most dangerous players from the opponent. so i guess that's an issue with the coach, not therien. but anyway...
obviously, i was quite pleased with last night's performance by the flyers. nittymaki came up with some great saves, and even though he wasn't particularly spectacular, i think that kid's gonna make it.
chad was not so lucky with the lightning game. i watched pieces of it (during the flyers' intermissions), and i'm really surprised at the skill of the florida panthers. the game was scoreless until there were 2 minutes left in the game, when the panthers finally got something by grahame, and it was a really tight game as far as play. the lightning came really close to answering right back, but vinny couldn't get a stick on it, and boyle just didn't get enough lift on the puck to get it by the impressive roberto luongo... then an empty-netter by olie jokinen clinched things. disappointing, i know, but i was so happy about the flyers game that i didn't really care.
well, that's all for now. i'm sure there will be more soon. lay-tah.
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