by Patrick Hoffman on 08/10/10 at 09:34 PM ET
In the National Hockey League, good goaltending is everything.
Just look at what the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia utilized to get to the Stanley Cup finals this past season. When looking at the New York Rangers, however, Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron could be considered as great and above average.
Since joining the NHL and the Rangers in the 2005-06 season, Lundqvist has been everything and more to the Blueshirts. He consistently ranks in the top five and ten in goaltending statistical categories and has helped the team make the playoffs four out of the past five seasons. Ranger pundits and fans alike will expect more of the same from the “King” in the upcoming season.
Martin Biron was primarily the backup to Dwayne Roloson last season on the New York Islanders and struggled on a pretty terrible hockey club. However, prior to last season, he provided above average goaltending for the Philadelphia Flyers in leading the team to the playoffs in back-to-back years. In one of those seasons, he led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Penguins.
What does this mean for the Rangers? Well, first off, it means that Lundqvist will not have to play almost every single game. Many pundits and fans feel that Biron could still be a starter so for the Rangers, that could mean he gets in between 20 and 25 games. This could mean that if the team makes the playoffs, they’ll have a very healthy Lundqvist in between the pipes.
Secondly, it means that Lundqvist has someone who can push him. Ever since Kevin Weekes left the Rangers, Lundqvist has not had anyone pushing him for playing time in net. Obviously, Biron is not going to be a starter but he is someone that can force Lundqvist to be on top of his game every single night and make him earn his starts.
Lastly, it now means that head coach John Tortorella does not have any valid execuse not to play his backup netminder. Last year, it was obvious that Steve Valiquette was struggling so obviously, he wasn’t going to get anytime in net, making it easy for Torts to go to Lundqvist. The same could even be said when Chad Johnson and Alex Auld were with the team. No, those two were not necessarily struggling but it was very easy to give the net to Lundqvist.
So, do you folks think that Lundqvist and Biron will be the perfect combination this season?
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.