Rangers look for another big game from Biron today
• Game Notes
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
On Thursday night, Martin Biron
had less than two hours’ notice that he would be starting in goal due to Henrik Lundqvist
’s illness. Biron calmly went out and backstopped a clutch 3-2 overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden.
When Biron starts again this afternoon at The Garden against the Edmonton Oilers, he will have had considerably more time to prepare-- since Rangers head coach John Tortorella announced on Saturday that Biron would again receive the starting nod with Lundqvist not yet fully recovered.
“If Henrik was healthy enough he would play, but on the backside of it we feel very good about Marty’s game,” said Tortorella. “He’s played well. And this is what is good when you have a veteran guy to help you out in these types of situations.”
|Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto said today's game against the Oilers is particularly important because it gives the team a chance to get a winning streak going and to get it going at home.
Biron, who made 29 saves in Thursday’s victory, has posted a 2-2-0 record along with a 2.26 goals against average and .912 save percentage in four starts so far this season. This afternoon will mark the first time that he has started two games in a row this year, and it will mark his third start on this four-game homestand.
Last Sunday Biron turned in a stellar 20-save outing, albeit in a 2-0 empty-net goal-aided loss to the Blues.
“He’s very relaxed, and I think he plays better when he’s relaxed,” Lundqvist said of Biron. “He’s done a really good job coming in, and it’s a really good thing for us.”
The Rangers’ main off-season objective was to acquire a reliable veteran goalie to reduce the number of games Lundqvist would play in 2010-11. That goal was accomplished right at the outset of the free agency period when Biron was signed to a two-year contract.
The cool, calm demeanor displayed by Biron despite the late starting assignment on Thursday is Exhibit A of how important he is to the Rangers this season.
“Whenever you play, you are the guy,” said Biron. “And even if you are not going to play I still try to keep the same routine, get my nutrition, get my rest. You never know, especially in a back-up role, when you might be needed, and you have to be able to make the saves because the team is counting on you.”
Lundqvist, who has been battling a bug for the better part of a week, participated in practice on Saturday, but afterwards admitted that he was not close to feeling 100 percent. Upon hearing that, Tortorella decided to give Biron the start today.
“I felt pretty good at practice, but it’s also a question of if you should go out and battle if you are not 100 percent or should you let Marty go in and play, especially because he is playing really well right now,” said Lundqvist. “You know me, I want to play, but you can’t be selfish. It’s important to make the decision that is good for everybody.”
The Rangers will be seeking to earn a split of their four-game homestand, which concludes this afternoon. After losing to the Capitals and Blues, the Rangers earned a thrilling overtime victory over the Sabres on Thursday when Artem Anisimov
scored his second goal of the game 1:32 into the extra period.
For a team determined to get its home game on track, today’s contest is an extremely important one for the Blueshirts.
|Former Rangers head coach Tom Renney will be back at Madison Square Garden today behind the bench of a talented young Edmonton team that features 2010 No. 1 overall draft pick Taylor Hall.
“We’re coming off a big win the other night and now we just want to make it two in a row, not try and think too big, but certainly wanting to establish ourselves at home,” said defenseman Michael Del Zotto
“In this league it’s really tough to win, so as long as you get the wins, whether on the road or at home, it doesn’t really matter,” added Lundqvist. “But it feels better to win at home in front of the home crowd.”
Today’s opponent, the Oilers, is playing its final game of a five-game road trip. After a 2-1 win in Chicago last Sunday, the Oilers have dropped three in a row, including a 4-3 overtime decision to the Devils on Friday.
Despite their overall 4-8-3 record, Edmonton is an exciting team to watch, mainly due to their trio of offensively-gifted rookies -- number-one pick Taylor Hall, 10-point scorer Jordan Eberle, and talented 19-year-old Magnus Paajarvi.
“They have a lot of energy and a lot of offense up front,” explained Del Zotto. “We have to match their intensity and get the crowd on our side real quick.”
This afternoon’s game will also feature the return to The Garden of former Rangers head coach Tom Renney for the first time since he was replaced by Tortorella on Feb. 23, 2009. Renney, who served as an associate coach with the Oilers last season, took over the head coaching duties this past summer.
Renney ranks fourth on the Rangers’ all-time lists for most games coached (327) and most coaching victories (164). His .566 winning percentage is tied for second on the Rangers all-time list.
Immediately following today’s game, the Rangers will head out to Pittsburgh where they skate against the Penguins on Monday night, part of a grueling five-games-in-seven-days stretch this week.