A pleasant problem

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

The timing was perfect: with Edmonton commiserating over the lack of a bona fide No. 1 goalie, in walk the Buffalo Sabres with Martin Biron and Ryan Miller.

It was like the Fonz strolling into Arnold's with a hot girl on each arm while Potsie sits alone in the corner nursing his milkshake.

With Craig MacTavish wondering who he should dare start, there's Sabres counterpart Lindy Ruff, torn between Miller, 13-6-0 with a .923 save percentage, and Biron, who's 15-5-3 and won 13 straight starts. Even seldom used Mika Noronen has proved himself a viable option

"It's been tough to get all three guys involved," lamented Ruff, who won't get any sympathy in this town. "I don't know if any coach relishes the fact he has three goaltenders, and I don't think any goaltender, especially in Mika's case, would want to be there the whole year and not play."

SABRES SOLDIER ON

Yeah, life's tough when both your guys are good enough to start, but the Sabres soldier on. As does Edmonton.

Of course, GM Darcy Regier could solve both dilemmas by moving Biron down the hallway. One stone, two dead birds. Just like the rumours said.

"I think Marty's heard for the last two or three months about coming here, about (Edmonton) coming to scout him," said former Oiler Mike Grier, adding the 28-year-old would be a valuable addition to any team. "He's a good goalie, a great team guy, works hard and everyone likes him. We're lucky to have him but I'm sure there's a lot of teams that have interest in him and I'm sure he wants to play every night."

Biron doesn't know what's going to happen with him, but he didn't come to Edmonton expecting to switch sweaters and start against the Sabres last night.

'IT'S FLATTERING'

"Whenever rumours get started, it's basically because nothing's going to happen," he said. "The deals that are made you never hear about. It's something I get a good laugh out of, it's flattering. When you're in rumours, somebody somewhere is thinking you've done a good job and you'd be in demand."

He is that. Buffalo didn't expect to be in this situation, but Miller got hurt early in the season, Biron's stock soared in relief and suddenly Regier has one of the hottest expendable commodities in the NHL.

"It's not an easy position to be in," said Biron, who isn't playing as much as he'd like now that Miller's back from this broken thumb.

"Early in the season Darcy said this situation will be fixed before the season starts. We're entering the second half of January and we're still in the same situation.

"But I think the reason we've had success this year is because we put the egos and selfishness aside ... we all get along, we work well together, push one another. Again, it's not the ideal situation, but it's something you have to deal with."

The Sabres are under no pressure to deal now, what with the constant winning and all. And with the rash of goalie injuries (Miller and Noronen have already been hurt) they don't want to leave themselves vulnerable.

So Edmonton, Vancouver, Colorado and any other potential suitors might have to wait.

"Right now it's working all right, it's not disrupting the team," said Miller.

"Our GM will look at it and make a decision on what's best towards the stretch.

"If there's something down the line we need to address he might take the opportunity, but right now, as is is fine."

Biron, who learned the art of patience while backing up Dominik Hasek, just does what they tell him, happy to be winning on a team that hasn't done much of that in recent years.

"We take it day by day and week by week here," he said. "We don't know if it's a situation that can work long term or not. We'll see.

"If the team keeps playing this way and we can keep the roles we've had, I don't see why this team should make any changes."

Then again, one of these days somebody's going to make Regier an offer he can't refuse.

"In my first training camp, my first goalie coach told me to always expect the unexpected," shrugged Biron. "So I don't expect anything. I just do what I'm told and keep on plugging."


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