Posts tagged: Martin Biron

Lineup Changes Begin: Woywitka In, Erixon Out

The post-holiday roster freeze lineup changes for the Rangers have begun. Pat Leonard of the NY Daily News (who took over for Jesse Spector) tweets that Jeff Woywitka will be returning to the lineup tonight in place of rookie Tim Erixon. Woywitka was out for a few games after blocking a shot with his foot in Phoenix. It is likely that Tim Erixon, who was at the morning skate, will be returned to the Connecticut Whale following the optional skate (Update: Torts said, per Leonard, that Erixon will be with the team for a while longer because the team is on the road).

Another Update: Andrew Gross says that as long as Woywitka and Stu Bickel survive the Washington game tonight, Erixon will be returned to Connecticut.

Also, Martin Biron will get the start in net tonight (also per Leonard). This means that Henrik Lundqvist will get the Florida game before the Winter Classic.

Musings On Duck Day

Good morning humans. The Ducks are on tap today and after the loss in Sweden the Rangers will be more than keen to even the score, especially when you consider how little offense they mustered in that game. Anyway, it’s a musing’s day so let’s get in to it before the Rangers go duck hunting tonight.

Lauri Korpikoski has 3 goals to start the season and has 5 points in 11 games (after having 40 points last season). The Rangers gave up on the talented Fin too soon; however I’m not sure he’d have ever scored as frequently in NY. The ice time, role on the roster he has and patience level with players is a lot different in Phoenix. The Coyotes can afford to let a player have growing pains (his first year in their organisation the perfect example) whereby in a market like NY that would never be possible.

Tim Kennedy was demoted to the AHL again last night. Anyone still have complaints about his time with the Rangers? He’s a marginal NHL’er.

Regrets

How frustrating is the loss to Ottawa still? Well, firstly a 5-3-2 record would look a lot better but the extra point would mean a playoff spot rather than looking in from the outside. Every point is critical in Bettman’s parity league. Hopefully the Rangers kick on and don’t end up in a playoff scramble although several teams expected to be in the playoffs have had indifferent starts, no one more so than Boston.

Forgotten Prospect

Chad Johnson; remember him? The Whale and Rangers player was named AHL goaltender of the month for October and thoroughly deserved it. The Whale has had a good start to the year and Johnson has been a huge part of it. Johnson has a 1.69 GAA, .942 save percentage to go with 3 wins and a shutout. He hasn’t been beaten in normal time. However, where does he fit in the organisation going forward? If Biron continues to play well he’d likely be brought back for at least another year and Johnson isn’t a young prospect anymore. His NHL window is closing; it may be closed in this organisation already.

Steve Eminger is -7 in just 10 games. He’ll be sitting as soon the team has the resources to allow a benching.

The Kids Are Alright?

The impressive win against the Sharks may have been more important for the performance of several players than the 2 points gained. Artem Anisimov and Derek Stepan played some of their best hockey of the season while Ryan Callahan played the kind of all action game that the Rangers have come to expect – and need – from their captain. Brandon Dubinsky was much improved and all of a sudden Marian Gaborik doesn’t look like he’s taking on the world on his own (offensively speaking). If the supporting cast/core can do their thing then Brad Richards and Gaborik will have much more space and opportunity to do theirs. It all bodes well.

Christensen Sighting

He still doesn’t deserve his roster spot but credit where it’s due, Erik Christensen had a huge impact on the Sharks game. Two excellent assists and generally better play from EC mean the recalled Avery will watch from the stands tonight. The biggest question is can Christensen follow it up with another game tonight? Every indication is that he can’t. Otherwise he wouldn’t be such a frustrating player to watch but maybe the Avery effect will squeeze a little more production out of the skilled center. Competition for places is crucial to success so if Avery’s presence means Christensen earns a regular spot in the line-up that’s fine by me. Key word being earns.

Brilliant Biron

Just a quick tip of the (Broadway) hat to Martin Biron as we close out musings for another week. He’s played in 3 games, has a miniscule 1.38GAA and a mighty .947 save percentage. They are awesome numbers. On the rare occasion the King has a night off can any team in the league be more confident in their backup than the Rangers? With his role clearly defined (he could string together 6 shutout wins and there’d still be no goalie controversy) Biron is comfortable on this team and it shows. His play is a big reason why the Rangers have had a decent start to the year given the issues they have faced. Kudos Marty.

Power Play Comes Through – Rangers Beat Jets

The Rangers won 2-1 in Winnipeg last night in a game that can best be described dull. At this stage of the season however, all that matters to the Rangers is that they left the MTS Arena with 2 points to make their Western Canadian trip a highly successful one. All in all as the Rangers head home, despite playing inconsistent error prone hockey to begin the year they will be more than happy to be 3-2-2. Let’s get to some game thoughts.

  • 2 Power Play goals. Really? The first goal came from some sustained pressure on the power play after which Girardi and Del Zotto moved the puck before Fedotenko redirected a Girardi shot. It wasn’t complicated or beautiful hockey but hockey basics. The second PP goal was the kind of lucky break you need (off the skate and in) but the Rangers managed to get good entry to the zone and that’s what happens if you can get behind the defense.
  • Mike Del Zotto had a good game. He looked more confident, wanted the puck on his stick and it looks like he’s really turning his game round with each and every game. Would have played this much if everyone was healthy? No, but his game is profiting from all the ice time. A +4 on the season is a long way from those rookie days.
  • The Rangers looked solid in the second period, created a few chances and finally had some sustained pressure in the offensive zone. The pressure resulted in Claude Noel needing to take a time out for the Jets.
  • Marian Gaborik was shut down in this game. No shots, little going for him. This is the kind of game when your depth has to come through when your star players can’t get it done. Thankfully the depth came through tonight.
  • Callahan: Better. Dubinsky: wasn’t. Richards: invisible.
  • The Rangers realise you have to shoot and get shots on net to win games, right? They will not win many games when they only have 17 shots on net like last night.  In the 7 games thus far the Rangers have recorded less than 20 shots in 4 of 7 games; that’s pathetic. Amazingly they are 2-1-1 in those games.
  • Penalties: the Rangers were better disciplined last night. I had to check the box score a few times because I couldn’t believe the Rangers only took one penalty aside from the Prust fight. Stay out of the box and you win games.
  • If this game wasn’t further evidence that the Rangers have the best goaltending combination in the game I don’t know what is. Biron played well, stepped in and the Rangers didn’t skip a beat. He was solid all night and I thought he was helpless on Antropov’s goal.
  • Is it me or does Antropov always play well against the Rangers?
  • Dan Girardi is playing on another level right now even if I thought he could have cleared the zone before the Jets’ goal.
The Rangers won this game thanks to three key ingredients; goaltending (again), special teams (for once) and discipline (really?). As a team, if you can stay out of the box and be at least respectable on the power play you will always have a chance. The Rangers managed to play a distinctly average game and come away with the two points because of those three things. That said, they really need to get more shots on net if they expect to win consistently.

Rangers Win and Post Game Thoughts

The Rangers kicked off their European trip with a solid 2-0 victory over Prague. Aided by second period goals from Artem Anisimov and Ruslan Fedotenko, the team was led by the strong play of Martin Biron who played very well in earning a shutout victory. According to beat writer Jim Cerny Biron made several impressive saves throughout.

Given the lack of TV coverage that is the shortest recap you’ll ever likely to see on the site so we’ll just get to some thoughts I have over the game.

  • Artem Anisimov scored the game winner. I have a feeling this won’t be his last of the upcoming season. With so much talent, he started to be more consistent last year. Hopefully, with Brad Richards commanding so much attention Artie will have more freedom to have a big year.
  • I know it’s pre-season but with his goal, did Fedotenko once again prove how nice a pick-up he’s been? All that from a camp try-out. He’s a great depth piece that can be moved up and down the lines and gives 100% every game. Good teams need foot soldiers and that’s exactly what Feds is.
  • Take a bow Marty Biron. Yes, I am biased but health allowing I firmly believe the Rangers have the best 1-2 in the entire league. A perennial Vezina candidate aided by a guy in Biron that could probably still be a solid starter for 10+ teams around the league. Have to love that combo.
  • Erixon and Del Zotto got on the board. Hopefully their assists help raise their games. By all accounts, Del Zotto’s pass in particular was a great play. That’s what he’s capable of.
  • Brutal Schedule! Following the Prague game yesterday the Rangers now do all this, prior to next Friday’s opener: They resume play against Frolunda in Sweden on Friday, Slovan Bratislava in Slovakia on Sunday, and Zug in Switzerland Monday. That’s going to be taxing. 3 more countries in 4 days before going back to Sweden for the opening weekend. Hopefully they get a rest day or two in the next week.
  • I would love to see Scott Stajcer get some time in net. He’s got good talent so don’t let him rot in the stands for the next ten days. Given the schedule, giving Lundqvist and Biron some time out of the pads would be good.
  • A week today is the opening game! I can’t wait to be there. If you’re anything like as excited for the opening weekend as I am, good luck to you.
  • I truly believe we’ll see a strong first weekend from the Rangers. 1-1 would be fine, given all the travel, the injuries on D etc but I have a feeling the Rangers take both games.

Should The King Play 60?

Henrik Lundqvist probably had a sore head recently thanks to his bachelor party in Sweden. That’s fine. What we don’t want to see however, is the King getting a sore groin/knee/back/insert body part, next season. Which brings back to a question that gets asked every season: how many games is an acceptable amount for Lundqvist?

For the first time in his Rangers tenure, last season Lundqvist was able to fall back on a reliable, capable NHL backup. No question marks, just an experienced goaltender at his side that could be trusted to spell the perennial Vezina candidate when needed. The problem this time was that Marty Biron got injured. While Hank got rest and played less games than he had in several seasons he still ended the season playing 20+ in a row thanks to a lack of trust/readiness in the goalies in the system behind Biron.

With Biron fit and ready to resume his Rangers career what is this season’s magic number, the split, which the goalies get? Biron was an excellent acquisition for the Blueshirts who at one point last year even had a few Rangers fans thinking out loud about a goalie controversy (which, with all due respect to Biron was ridiculous) but the point remains that Biron delivered when he was fit.

How many games are too much for Lundqvist, a goalie that likes to play a lot? What number of games leaves Lundqvist well rested for the playoffs which the Rangers will likely enter with increased expectancy and – a legitimate consideration – what is a number that gives Lundqvist the best opportunity to add individual glory (hello Mr overdue Vezina) to potential team success? Whether players admit it or not, individual goals are important to them as, should Lundqvist win a Vezina or two (to go with a cup), the Hall and a jersey retirement become appealing realistic goals.

Are 60 games enough for the Rangers to rest their most important player while giving him an opportunity to chase personal glory? Can Marty Biron hold the fort for 20+ games? As well as improving the power play and integrating the new players (Rupp, Richards, Erixon etc), how many games the most critical goaltender to any franchise in the league plays remains one of the most important questions needing answering this summer.

Biron Will Start Tonight (The Right Move); Same Lines

As per Andrew Gross, Martin Biron was the first goalie off the ice during today’s morning skate, and will likely be the starter tonight in Detroit. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as the backup has played very well this entire year, and is coming off a great start in a loss to the Montreal Canadiens. This is indeed the right move for the Rangers, as they need the points in the standings and should be riding the hot goalie for now.

Some may read into this as a “goalie controversy”, but it is exactly the opposite. It is very clear that Lundqvist is struggling, and hasn’t been himself lately. With the Rangers not playing again until Friday, a day off today gives The King a full week off to work on what has been ailing him in net. The purpose of a reliable backup like Biron is to not only give Lundqvist some rest, but to provide stable goaltending in the event that Lundqvist hits a cold streak. This is The King’s cold streak for the season, and should not be looked into any further. I would bet anything that Lundqvist gets the start Friday.

In other lineup news, the lines from Saturday will remain the same (listed below).

Vinny Prospal-Erik Christensen-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Wojtek Wolski-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Sean Avery-Brian Boyle-Brandon Prust

Steve Eminger will also be the healthy scratch, with Michael Del Zotto staying in the lineup. This has been an area of contention amongst Ranger fans, but I have to admit, everyone clamored for the youth movement. This is the youth movement, it’s not all roses and pixie-dust (yes, that’s a shot at the trade-MDZ-for-Arnott people).

Carter’s Deal Good for the Rangers and Biron on tap.

The already cap-tight Flyers today announced the signing of Jeff Carter to a ludicrous 11 year, 58 million dollar deal – at least Carter won’t be 48 when this one expires. With this deal on top of their other financial issues (as well as the new deal for Giroux) it will be interesting to see how they manage to get under the cap next year. The Jeff Carter deal however, may help the Rangers come the end of the season. Given that the deal roughly equates to 5.5m per year it will be interesting to see what Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan can realistically expect. Yes, Claude Giroux and David Backes are more reasonable comparisons when considering age, output, draft status etc, but don’t discount the fact a player that has come close to 50 goals has taken a 5.5m deal to sign up in Philly. For arguments sake, say Dubinsky scores 30 goals, 60 points; can he really command near the same as a 46 goal player, one that has 4 seasons of 23 goals or more? Surely not. It’s not necessarily the most appropriate comparable but I’m sure Carter’s name will be mentioned during negotiations.

Meanwhile, closer to home and Martin Biron will start once more, this time against Edmonton on Sunday. With Lundqvist apparently still suffering affects of his sinus issues Biron gets the nod for another start. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing with a back to back on tap (Pittsburgh on Monday) and in the long run it will give Lundqvist extra days off over the entire season. On top of that is the fact that Biron deserves more playing time because his play has warranted it. He was good against St Louis and excellent against Buffalo and has an excellent 2.26GAA and a solid .912 SV% for the season. So far Biron has proven an excellent addition, allowing for the blip against Atlanta. He’s given the Rangers enough confidence in their back up not to over use Lundqvist and that will prove vital in the long run. The Edmonton game is one the Rangers really need to win, not just because it’s at home but because it’s against a really struggling opponent. Having Lundqvist (hopefully) 100% for the Pens game is the much better, safer decision.

Training Camp Preview: Goalies

Training camp is just around the corner, and each Monday here at Blue Seat Blogs, I will be previewing each position in camp, including the incumbents, the new guys, and the guys just trying to make a name for themselves before being sent to Hartford. This week, we look at the only position that is (hopefully) set for the next two years at the NHL level, the goaltender position.

Henrik Lundqvist: The incumbent, current face of the franchise, and top-five goalie in the league. Lundqvist has been the backbone of the franchise in the post-lockout NHL, and will hopefully continue to do so for the next decade. In Lundqvist, the Rangers have one of the most consistent goalies in the league, who will most likely see his fare share of All-Star appearances and build upon his already three Vezina finalists. Last year, Lundqvist put up a record of 35-27-10, with a 2.38 GAA and a .921 SV%. With more rest coming, Lundqvist should be able to build on those numbers, and hopefully not burn out at the end of the season, like he has in the past few seasons due to starting 70 games a year.

Martin Biron: After last season’s debacle at the backup position, the Rangers identified that they need a capable, veteran backup that can spell Lundqvist for 20 games this season. Signed to a two year deal at $875,000 per year, Biron’s job may appear to be simple, but the Rangers haven’t had a capable (and consistent) backup since Kevin Weekes. If Biron can put together a .500 record, with a GAA under 3.00 for 20 games per year the next two years, then it will be the single most important signing of the offseason.

Chad Johnson: Johnson played well in his four games last season, putting up a 2.35 GAA, which is unfortunately overshadowed by the Rangers W-L record during his stint in net (1-2-1). There is simply no room for Johnson at the NHL level, but the Rangers are hoping he can put together a good camp, and carry the Hartford Wolfpack in net. Johnson struggled at the end of last season, but it may be due to jet/train lag from traveling to and from Hartford to go wherever the Rangers needed him to go. Dos-Nueve will likely start in Hartford, and hopefully can develop into a solid and reliable goalie. With the starting position seemingly filled for the next decade, Johnson is probably going to be best served as a trade chip.

Cameron Talbot: The recently signed Talbot is entering camp as the #4 goalie in the system. Talbot played for a very weak Alabama-Huntsville for three seasons, posting a solid final two seasons that led to the Rangers signing him. Talbot will definitely be in Hartford next year, probably serving as the backup for Chad Johnson. Talbot will likely be the first goalie in camp sent to Hartford, but he is definitely going to show up motivated. In the best case scenario, Talbot gives Johnson a run for his money, forcing the coaching staff to take a longer look at him before sending him to Hartford.

The goaltender position isn’t going to change much in the next few years, as Lundqvist will continue to be the backbone of the Rangers. It is the Rangers greatest strength, but can also be their greatest weakness if Biron doesn’t fulfill his duties. The backups and prospects will come and go, but when you have The King in net, you tend to look at goalie prospects as trade bait.

Rangers Sign Derek Boogaard, Martin Biron, Erik Christensen, Vinny Prospal on Day One

Day One of free agency started off with a bang for the Rangers, as they inked a backup goalie in Martin Biron to a two year deal worth $875,000 per year, and re-signed center Erik Christen to a two-year deal worth $975,000 per year. In Biron, the Rangers get a capable backup goaltender that can potentially start 20 games next season. If the Rangers manage to get capable backup goaltending from Biron for the two years, consider this to be a bargain. This, of course, is a huge IF. In Christensen, the Rangers get a top-12 forward who, if he plays well enough to earn first line time, is an extreme bargain. If not, he’s just a cheap second or third line guy. There is nothing wrong with that.

It was later in the day, around 4pm, when things in Rangerland got intense. After letting Jody Shelley go to the Flyers at $1.1 million over three years (which is almost double his salary), the Rangers signed tough-guy and monster Derek Boogaard to a ridiculous contract of 4 years at $1.65 million per year. On the surface, this deal looks absurd. But, if you dive deeper, Boogaard made $1.2 million last year, so this is a modest raise. The dollar amount per year really shouldn’t irk anyone. That length though is, well, horrible. I’m not in love with this signing, but it’s not the end of the world that Rangers fans are making it out to be. It’s not the worst signing in Rangers history, and I think that as long as people realize that it’s not his fault that Sather offered him four years, we will be OK with what he brings to the table.

In one of the last moves of the day, the Rangers re-signed Vinny Prospal to a 1 year deal worth $1 million base, with potential for $1.1 million in bonuses. These bonuses will be easily attained, and applied to next year’s salary cap. This was a fantastic deal by Sather, and kind of makes up for the questionable signing of Boogaard. The Rangers know what they get with Prospal. He’s this year’s version of Brendan Shanahan, except more tan.