Going into last night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Twitter universe and New York Rangers message boards across the internet were getting all worked up that Martin Biron was going to get his first start of the season. It didn’t help that the Lightning had defeated the Winnipeg Jets the night before 8-3, and got three power play goals within the first period.
Was it really the right game to make Lundqvist sit and give Biron his start?
But what many Rangers fans forget is that Biron is by no means a “second rate” goaltender. In fact, head coach John Tortorella described the goaltending duo of Henrik Lundqvist and Biron last season as “I have a 1A and a 1B.”
Last season, Biron finished strong appearing in 21 games for the Rangers, posting pretty impressive numbers overall: a 12-6-2 record, with .904 save percentage and 2.46 goals-against average. He also managed two shutouts last season, his first since being a member of the New York Islanders.
Biron was very excited for the start against the Lightning, and felt he was as prepared as he could be when talking to The Bergen Record’s Andrew Gross:
“We did our preparation with Benny (goalie coach Benoit Allaire) the last little while. I’ve been getting ready, kind of underline some points that you want to focus on, some things you want to do. I’ve been trusting that for two years now, the work you put in in practice and the game situations we do is going to prepare you for the games. So that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Biron had plenty of action in net against the Lightning. Several times, Biron had to react to two-on-one breakaways, and multiple members of the Lightning in his crease. For the entire game, Biron looked comfortable and poised in net, and made several highlight-worthy saves.
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that every game with Biron will be a win, or that he hasn’t had bad games in his career. Every goalie has. It’s what makes athletes human. But he is a very capable alternative to Lundqvist.
As long as Biron is backing up Lundqvist, the Rangers will succeed and go very far in the postseason. While many of us would love to see Lundqvist start every game, the reality is that it’s just not possible in order to keep Lundqvist strong and healthy for a deep postseason run. Biron is more than capable and comes at a steal of $1.3 million per year through the 2014 season. So long as he remains consistent and healthy, I wouldn’t mind signing Biron to another extension. He’s 35 years old and likely still has another three to five years remaining in his career.
Make no mistake: Lundqvist is always going to be the Rangers number one goalie – as he should – but I have a lot of faith in Biron.
New York Rangers fans: you can all exhale now.