Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blueland Guest Goalie: 2 for 1 special!! Antero Niittymäki and Marty Biron

I decided to do a tag team edition of the Blueland guest goalie with Philadelphia. There were several reasons. First of all, as Philly just hired Ray Emery and there has been murmurs of them talking to Robert Esche, chances are neither Nitty nor Marty will be putting the pads on for the Flyers next season.

The other reason is I don't have many pictures of Biron....because I've never seen him play. Oh I've seen him come to Blueland several times. I've even been to the Wachovia center TWICE...but I've yet to see him play. Why you may ask? Because Nitty is a Thrasher killer. As long as Philadelphia has Nitty and he's healthy, no one will EVER play against Atlanta but Nitty.
Niittymaki is one of two active goalies with a perfect record in at least 10 decisions against one team. Detroit's Chris Osgood is 17-0 against Tampa Bay. Nitty has beaten the Thrashers 13 times in a row. No matter what goalie we use (Kari, Moose or even Pavs) he beats us. We bring signs, have chants, hell Lisa even brought a voodoo doll. Didn't work.

How could this adorable sign I made not be effective???

Wonder what Nitty and Kari are talking about? I'm sure there is some Finnish discussion about how Shitty Nitty (Atlanta's nickname for him) is going to kick our ass again.

Antero Niittymäki was born on June 18, 1980 in Turku, Finland.

From 1995 to 2002, Niittymäki played for TPS in the SM-liiga (Finnish elite league). In 1999 he started playing in the non-junior SM-liiga. In 2000 he won the Jarmo Wasama memorial trophy for Rookie of the Year, and led TPS to their second straight SM-liiga championship.

In the 1998 NHL Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers selected Nitty in the 6th round, 168th over all. Nitty continued to play in Finland for TPS from 1998 until 2002. Even if he would have opted to come immediately to the United States to play hockey, compulsory military service kept Niittymäki in Finland until January, 2001. An officer and a gentleman, nice!

Can you ever have enough goalies drinking pictures? NO, you cannot.

From 2002 until 2005, Nitty played for the Philadelphia Flyers and their AHL affiliates, the Phantoms.

Nitty found success in the AHL. In 2005 he played for the PlanetUSA in the AHL All Star Game. Also in 2005, he and the Phantoms won the Calder Cup.

On February 27, 2007 Nitty knew he finally arrived....the Phantoms gave out Nitty bobble heads. Nothing says "super star" like a bobble head.

Perhaps the most bad assed stat that Nitty has is his shorthanded OT goal. On April 11, 2004, he became the first goaltender in the history of North American professional hockey to be credited with an overtime goal (shorthanded, no less!). On the last day of the regular season, the Hershey Bears needed a victory to qualify for the Calder Cup playoffs. Midway through overtime, with the game between Hershey and Niittymäki's Philadelphia Phantoms tied at two apiece, Hershey's coach gambled and pulled goaltender during a power play to give the Bears a five-on-three man advantage. During the ensuing attack, Shane Willis' wild pass left the Phantom zone, rebounded off the side boards at center ice and entered the vacated Hershey net. Nitty was the last Philadelphia player to play the puck, and he was credited with the tally.

Both Thrashers vs Philly home games I had crappy seats and didn't get any good pictures. So, even though I'm breaking my own rules, I had to use a few pictures from when I went to Philly if I wanted any Nitty action shots. The following 3 pics are actually from Boston vs Philly. Another great story because Shauna and I were excited thinking that we were gonna get to see Biron

Niittymäki started the 2005-2006 season as the backup to Robert Esche, but let in quite a few soft goals that showed that he wasn't paying much attention to the play. Niittymaki became the starter by default when Esche went down with an injury.

I love this stretch. I call it "the lean."

Nitty got his chance to be the starter in the 2006-07 season. Unfortunately, Nitty was suffered a torn labrum in his hip. (goalies fuck up their hips more than those people in the "Life Alert" commercials) They gave him cortisone shots to postpone surgery, but by December he needed another shot. Nitty played through. Although he was playing behind a poor team, Nitty also played inconsistently. That season he played in 52 games and only had 9 wins.

The 2007 season saw Philly sign Biron and Nitty settled into the back up position where he seems to have found more of a comfort zone and built some confidence. In 2008-09 he played in 32 games and had 15 wins. He posted a GAA of 2.76 and a .912 save percentage.

Nitty has also found success on international ice. In 2006 when Kari Lehtonen and Mikka Kippersof had to withdraw due to injuries, Nitty was named to the Finnish National Men's Hockey Team for the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. Though he was not widely known and did not have much top level experience, Nitty put in a stellar performance and was named the MVP of the tournament after posting 3 shutouts in 6 games, leading Finland to the silver medal.
Niittymäki played for Finland in the 2006 IIHF World Championships until the last game of the qualifying round against Canada, in which he got injured and was replaced.

Who knows where Nitty will be next season. I hope he's with Philly so I can use my sign again!

Biron: Come on Nitty
Nitty: Sisällä
Biron: Just this once man, come on. You've beaten them 12 times before.
Nitty: NO! I always play the Thrashers.
Biron: But I want to play.
Nitty: No.
Biron: Just this once?!?!?!
Nitty: COACH....tell Marty he can't play.

If you have been to a Thrashers vs Philly game in the past 2 years, this is the ONLY place you are going to see Biron, chirping and chatting on the bench.

I love Marty Biron. He is #3 on my Marty hierarchy. There is:
* Marty (Marty Brodeur)
* Marty(2) (Marty Turco)
* Marty (3) (Marty Biron)
Let's go on and get it over with and talk about....those eyes. WOW! My friend Paula says they creep her out and calls him "Devil Eyes." Shauna and I think they are mesmerizing and he could possibly steal your soul, but definitely blow your panties right off by just looking at you.
I mean seriously, how can you watch this and not love Marty? I love how when he gets excited and throws his little glove and blocker up. So stinking cute. And of course the smack talk to Eric Staal is a classic.
Marty chatting on the bench knowing that Nitty has this game taken care of. Marty watches the jumbo tron a lot.

Martin Gaston Biron was born on August 15, 1977 in Lac-Saint-Charles, Quebec City.

Biron started his hockey career on the Beauport Harfangs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). In the 1995 NHL draft, the Buffalo Sabres drafted Marty in the 1st round, 16th over all. They brought him in to start, but he lost his first 3 games so they sent him back to Beauport to improve.

Marty spent most of the 1997-98 season with the Rochester Americans of the AHL, but did play 2 games in the ECHL for the South Carolina Sting Rays.

From 1997 through 2001 Marty bounced back and forth between the Rochester Americans and the Buffalo Sabres, usually relieving an injured Dominic Hasek. By 2001, he had dramatically improved his game and was ready to stay in the NHL. Buffalo traded Hasek and Marty got his chance.

Marty was a reliable starting goalie for 3 season in Buffalo. In 2005-06 the Sabres acquired Ryan Miller and eventually Marty was relegated to the back up role. During the off season in 2006, Marty requested a trade so he could get more starts. He got his wish and was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in February 2007. He later signed a 2 year extension to stay in Philly.

The Marty Rule. NOPE! It's not what you think. Usually when you think of the Marty rule it has to do with my beloved Brodeur and that stupid trapezoid they keep him trapped in. This is a different Marty Rule and it's Marty BIRON's rule. Marty was the only person in the NHL to ever wear the number "00" during his short stint with Buffalo after the draft.
The NHL decided to make a rule that said a person could only wear the numbers 1-99 (98 really since most had retired Gretzky's number). Since Marty was the only one to ever wear "00" it only affected him and became known as the Marty Biron rule. When he returned to the NHL three years later, he chose to wear 43.

Who knows where Marty will be next year. Even though he played 55 games for Philadelphia and had 29 wins with a GAA of 2.76 and a .915 sv&, it's looking like he won't be back in Philly. Good luck Marty! I hope to see you soon where ever your new team is.

I love this picture, it's so dramatic. I can hear him in his little accent "I catch zee puck wit theese block-air and glove, hauh hauh."
(haugh haugh being like the chef from the "Little Mermaid," about 28 seconds in)

Speaking of videos....Marty has some great ones.
Who can forget the classic Emery vs Biron fight? Maybe that's how they can figure out who to sign in Philly, rematch! Hopefully Biron fairs a little better because Emery beat his ass here.

Crappy quality, but funny


Ms. Conduct June 18, 2009 at 6:44 AM  

I'm pretty sure we share a brain. Right down to having the very same Marty Hierarchy.

Had no idea about Nitty's shorty. That's pretty cool!


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