Antero Niittymaki spent more than a month as the Flyers’ starter in goal, from the time Robert Esche reinjured his groin in mid-December until Saturday.
With 17 consecutive starts, the goalie was one shy of equaling Tommy Soderstrom’s run from Dec. 17, 1992, through Jan. 24, 1993. Though it wasn’t a record, it was the longest run in recent years.
Flyers general manager Bob Clarke said last week that no one knew how good Niittymaki was. But it should be apparent to anyone who watched the 25-year-old rookie for the last month that he can be a No. 1 starter in the NHL. He will get the start tonight against Pittsburgh.
Off the ice, “Niitty,” as he is called, is like a lot of people. He’s afraid of heights. He loathes disco music. And when he’s done playing, he plans to travel the world.
Also of note is how he wound up with a gangster, Frank Nitti, on his goalie mask.