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Hot Biron gets the start against Flames

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
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Game Notes

By Jim Cerny,

When Rangers head coach John Tortorella announced after today’s morning skate that Martin Biron would make his second consecutive start in goal this evening when the Blueshirts host the Calgary Flames at Madison Square Garden, he wanted to make one other point perfectly clear.

“(Henrik Lundqvist) is our No. 1 guy and he’s going to play the bulk of these games,” said Tortorella. “It’s not a two-goalie system. Marty deserves to play, and will tonight, but Hank will play in Tampa (on Wednesday). He is our No. 1 goalie.”

Rangers goalie Martin Biron, who will start tonight at MSG, is 3-3-0 with a 2.41 goals-against average in seven previous regular-season games vs. Calgary.
Both Tortorella and Lundqvist said this morning that the star netminder’s play has been a bit inconsistent of late and that he would benefit from extra practice time with the club’s goaltending coach, Benoit Allaire. Lundqvist worked extensively on the ice with Allaire Saturday morning in Minnesota prior to that evening’s game with the Wild, and put in another dose of lengthy work this morning.

Lundqvist has started 15 games for the Rangers this season, posting a 7-7-1 record with a 2.75 goals against average and .914 save percentage to go along with a pair of shutouts. He last started Friday night in Colorado where he was pulled from the game in the second period with the Blueshirts trailing 3-0 in an eventual 5-1 loss.

“I don’t want to be selfish, it’s about the team,” said Lundqvist. “Marty played well the other night, and we won. I think I have to be more consistent so I have time now to work on my game for a couple of days. But, yeah, I want to play and I love to play, that’s why I’m here. At the same time, there are two guys here, and I have to earn my minutes.”

Biron made 25 saves in the Rangers’ 5-2 victory over the Wild on Saturday. He is now 4-2-0 with a 2.33 goals against average in seven appearances so far this season. Tonight marks the second time this season that he has started two games in a row.

“This year everything seems to be meshing well for me, mentally and physically, which is a really good thing,” said Biron, who struggled through an unsettled season with the Islanders a year ago.

Having two reliable veteran goaltenders to carry the team through the 82-game regular season, as well as the Stanley Cup Playoffs, is exactly what the Rangers were seeking when Biron was signed as a free agent to serve as Lundqvist’s back-up this past summer.

However, Tortorella was making it clear this morning that there is a well differentiated No. 1 and No. 2 on the Rangers’ depth chart, and, even though Lundqvist is not starting tonight, he is the team’s top netminder.

“Marty deserves to play another game tonight with the way he has played, but it certainly hasn’t changed our thinking with what we have in Lundqvist,” said Tortorella. “He’s our No. 1 guy and has to be the backbone of this club if we want to get where we want to be.”

Rozsival, Drury take to the ice

Injured defenseman Michal Rozsival and team captain Chris Drury skated by themselves early this morning as both work on a return to the Rangers lineup.

Michal Rozsival
Rozsival, who has missed six straight games with a shoulder injury, will travel with the team on its road trip involving games against Tampa Bay, Florida, and Nashville this week with Tortorella saying the team is hoping he will be back in the lineup by “this weekend”.

While Rozsival’s return to action will be quite welcome by the team and its coach, Tortorella said that he has seen tremendous growth in defensemen Steve Eminger, Matt Gilroy, and Michael Sauer during Rozsival’s absence.

“That was a pretty big injury for us because (Rozsival) plays in all the situations for us and plays a lot of minutes,” said Tortorella. “Sauer, Emmy, and Gilly have stepped up during his absence here. It’s always a work in progress, but I think they’ve played pretty well.”

As for Drury, Tortorella said that he still “can’t hold his stick” and does not have a timetable for his return to action.
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