• Rangers Add Mitchell at Deadline
• Blueshirts Refuse to Deal Away Future Stars
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com
This season the Rangers have lost 246 man-games to injury, but not one from their veteran goaltending tandem of Henrik Lundqvist
and Martin Biron
. Unfortunately, that will change when the Rangers face the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
Biron, who has had a splendid first season with the Rangers serving as Lundqvist’s back-up, is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a fractured collarbone when struck by a shot in practice on Monday.
“It’s a big loss for our team,” said Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather. “He’s been a big part of (the team). He is a very enthusiastic, upbeat, positive guy, and we’re sorry to lose him.”
|With backup goaltender Martin Biron, right, sidelined by an injury, the Blueshirts' netminding load down the stretch will rest even more on the shoulders of All-Star goalie Henrik Lundqvist. |
Sather pointed out that Biron likely will miss the remainder of the regular season, but it’s possible he could return in time for the playoffs. However, it is too early to tell how quickly the injury will heal.
“Collarbones usually heal fairly well, but it’s definitely a fracture and it’s going to take some time,” said Sather. “We’ll just have to see how he heals.”
Biron, 33, has appeared in 17 games this season, making 15 starts. He has an 8-6-0 record to go along with a sterling 2.13 goals against average and .923 save percentage. In nine of Biron’s 15 starts this season, he has held the opposition to two goals or fewer.
When news of Biron’s injury reached Sather, the team’s GM immediately checked into acquiring a veteran back-up goalie before the NHL trading deadline struck at 3 p.m. ET on Monday afternoon. Unable to strike a deal, the Rangers instead recalled rookie goaltender Cam Talbot
from the minor leagues to serve as Lundqvist’s back-up against Buffalo.
“I know it’s risky, but at the same time I know Henrik loves the work and loves to play,” said Sather. “There wasn’t an awful lot of time (to trade for a goalie), but we did look into it. There were some possibilities, but when you are looking for something on short notice like that it gets very expensive to find an NHL back-up goaltender that has the experience.”
Lundqvist, who has already started a season-high eight games in a row at present, is no stranger to heavy workloads in the NHL. He has played in 70 or more games four years running. Last season, he appeared in a career-high 73 games, prompting Sather to sign the trusted Biron on July 1 as a free agent to provide Lundqvist more rest during the regular season.
This year Lundqvist has appeared in 50 games, so far. He is 25-21-4 with a 2.33 goals against average and .922 save percentage. Lundqvist leads the league in shutouts with eight and ranks eighth-best in both goals against and save percentage.
“He’s had a lot of time off this year already, and he likes to play every day if he can,” Sather said of Lundqvist. “We’ve got time off between a lot of these games, and the toughest part of our schedule is really behind us. We see the back-up playing one or two games the rest of the year, but not any more than that.”
Talbot, the former University of Alabama-Huntsville goaltender, signed as a free agent with the Rangers on March 30, 2010. This season, he has split the year between the Connecticut Whale in the AHL and Greenville in the ECHL. Combined he has posted a 9-3-3 record with a 2.43 goals against average, .920 save percentage, and two shutouts.