Obviously it goes without saying that a back-up goaltender is important to the success of any NHL team, but in Marty Biron the Rangers have a player that is perhaps just as important off the ice as he is on it.
Biron has logged three starts for the Rangers this season, going 3-0 with a .962 save percentage and a 0.955 goals-against average. Biron also played 10 minutes in the Rangers’ 2-0 defeat in Edmonton after Henrik Lundqvist had left the game through injury, saving the three shots he faced.
Of course, the Blueshirts blogosphere was perhaps right to temporarily meltdown at the thought of an early-season layoff for their star goaltender, but in Biron the Rangers have a back-up that has proven consistently reliable and one that they should feel confident in were the worst to happen.
Biron’s 2010/11 season was curtailed by injury, forcing Lundqvist into the kind of long-haul run of starts that the team absolutely did not need given the approaching playoffs. Prior to his layoff, Biron posted a very respectable 8-6 record with a 2.13 GAA and a .923 SV%. He provided exactly what the Rangers needed as they looked to rest Lundqvist more often in order to maintain prime condition for the post-season. In fact, the sole reason for his win-loss record not being better was the lack of offensive support that he often faced during his starts.
So far this season it’s been a similar story for Biron, and with John Tortorella undoubtedly looking to rest Lundqvist more than he ultimately could last year, expect the former Flyer’s workload to rise considerably beyond 2010/11’s 15 starts.
His impact runs beyond the ice though. Biron’s a phenomenal locker-room guy and a big asset in shootouts. In Wojtek Wolski, Erik Christensen, Brad Richards, Artem Anisimov and previously Mats Zuccarello, the Rangers have players that know how to put the biscuit in the basket one-on-one, though Biron’s advice in terms of the opposing goaltender has often proved vital.
There’s a confidence about Biron, and though it’s hard to see the Rangers pushing for a divisional title were Lundqvist to go down for an extended period of time, it should absolutely go without saying that the Blueshirts would remain competitive through a shorter run of starts. Will Biron play closer to 25 games this season? Probably. Should Rangers fans be concerned by that? Absolutely not.