Coming into the lockout shortened year, a consensus emerged that due to the abbreviated schedule, Marty Biron was going to play a major role for the Blueshirts this season. Back at the beginning of January, The Suit did a great job highlighting this need. Our sartorially inclined colleague opined that Biron should get at least 12 games this season in order to keep Hank fresh and keep his overall workload reasonable.
So far, this hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. Due to the slow start the Rangers had to the season, our resident Marty has only appeared in three games so far (once in relief and starts against TB and the Isles, last night). This puts him on pace to start well under ten games during the regular season. Obviously not an ideal workload share for a potential long playoff run.
For the remainder of February, the Rangers have six games in twelve days. Fortunately, all six of those games come against non-divisional opponents and only three are currently in the top-8 in the Conference. Ottawa and Montreal are the current playoff teams, and Ottawa just suffered the crippling blow of losing reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson to an Achilles laceration in addition to the already sidelined Jason Spezza. Montreal on the other hand, while they usually give the Rangers some fits, just aren’t all that good.
My point is, this stretch of games not only offers a softer set of opponents than the Rangers have dealt with in the early going, but a great opportunity to get Biron some playing time, while getting Hank some rest. The schedule doesn’t ideally line up in this case, but Hank will presumably start the next two games against Washington and Montreal (at MSG), and most likely the Ottawa game on the 21st. The game in Montreal on the 23rd would be a perfect opportunity to get Biron some additional action. Montreal has been a house of horrors for The King, and since he is starting to hit his stride and find some confidence, I’d look for Biron on that night. After that, you could likely split the Winnipeg and Tampa games to keep the workload in check.
A quick look toward March offers a couple more non-divisional opportunities with Buffalo and Ottawa. This is all just spit balling, and is subject to change with injuries, performance etc. However, it seems that after a brutal start to the season (opponent wise), the schedule lends itself to more opportunities for our highly qualified backup to get some substantial minutes and find his form. That, my friends, is good for The King and good for a potentially long march into June.