Ron Hextall or Dominic Roussel?
The Flyers continue their four-game western swing today against the expansion San Jose Sharks at the Cow Palace. And for the first time since he became the Flyers' coach on Dec. 4, Dineen is having a hard time deciding on which of his goalies he should use. Or how he should use them as the Flyers enter the final full month of the regular season with little margin for error.
Asked if he might be inclined to rotate Hextall and Roussel, Dineen said, ''Not necessarily." Asked how he'll arrive at a decision for each game, Dineen said, "I'll just have to base it on what I see."
Just coach's intuition? "Guess you could say that," Dineen answered, with a grin.
Most likely, Dineen will start Roussel against the Sharks and come back with Hextall on Tuesday night against the Kings in Los Angeles.
It was easy for Dineen when he had Ken Wregget. Play Hextall. But Wregget was traded to Pittsburgh on Feb. 19 and the 22-year-old Roussel was brought up
from Hershey to back Hextall.
After Roussel was outstanding in a 38-save, 2-1 overtime loss to the Rangers last Sunday at Madison Square Garden, Dineen came back with him for two more games, and the Flyers won both - 4-1 over the Islanders Tuesday at the Spectrum and 3-0 on Thursday night in Calgary.
Hextall, who helped beat himself in losses to New Jersey on Feb. 18 and Washington on Feb. 22, made a strong recovery in Friday's 4-2 loss in Edmonton. Unlike Thursday against Calgary, when they limited the Flames to 20 shots, the Flyers practically left Hextall to fend for himself against Edmonton. He faced 38 shots, had little protection from teammates who appeared leg-weary, yet kept them in the game until Craig MacTavish scored with 3 minutes, 9 seconds remaining in the third period.
"Hextall was really tough," MacTavish said after the Oilers reached .500 for the first time this season, having failed in 10 previous attempts. "Maybe he's feeling pressure from the kid."
Added Flyers center Rod Brind'Amour, who flubbed a backhander over a wide- open net in the second period when the Flyers were ahead, 2-1, "We could have lost, 10-2, if it wasn't for Hexy."
Certainly, this is not a problem Dineen faces. It just comes down to choosing the right goalie for the right game.
Hextall is a single-minded competitor who has never needed a push, yet the presence of a young prospect such as Roussel still may give him an extra charge.
Meanwhile, Roussel is simply enjoying the success he has had in the last week, and seems eager to learn what he can from Hextall.
"It's nice to get off to a good start and help the team," said Roussel, who became the first goalie to shut out the Flames in Calgary since Bill Ranford did it in 1986 when he was with Boston. "But I know it's not going to be easy here. There will be some bad nights, too. The important thing for me now is to learn the league, look for what teams do on their power plays, things like that. And Ron Hextall is a good guy to learn from."