Biron Starts, Rest Of Lineup In Question
Rangers head coach John Tortorella sees a series of question marks when he looks at his lineup for tonight's game at the Bell Centre against the Montreal Canadiens. However Torts does know who is goalie will be as the coach announced following the morning skate that Martin Biron will make his third start of the season between the pipes for the Rangers.
Biron is 1-0-1 in three appearances (two starts) so far this season with a 2.31 goals against average and .928 save percentage. He backstopped a 3-2 victory in Tampa Bay on February 2nd, and then was on the losing end of a 4-3 shootout final to the Islanders at Madison Square Garden nine days ago.
"Tonight is Marty's game," said Tortorella Saturday morning. "I think Marty has given us some good minutes, and we feel very comfortable putting him in."
Biron, who lifetime is 14-12-1 with 2.42 goals against average and .917 save percentage in 29 games against the Canadiens, will look to provide a calming influence for a beat-up Rangers sqad playing in a raucous Bell Centre and in front of a Hockey Night in Canada audience.
"It is fun when you are here because the energy is really high and sometimes as a goaltender that energy gives you that little extra that carries you through some tougher times in the game," explained Biron.
The Rangers have lost six in a row at the Bell Centre, dating back to March of 2009. And this evening they will be playing without injured star forward Rick Nash, who remains back in New York, and concussed winger Darroll Powe, who is on Injured Reserve.
In addition Marc Staal missed the morning skate because he is battling the flu. And defenseman Michael Del Zotto and forward Arron Asham, both of whom are banged up and questionable to play tonight, both took part in the start of the morning skate Saturday, but neither made it through the entire skate. Tortorella would only say that his final lineup decisions will be made closer to game time, and he did not rule Staal, Del Zotto, or Asham out just yet.
Steve Eminger is back with the club, returning from a four-game conditioning stint with the Connecticut Whale. Both he and Stu Bickel could be on the Rangers blueline this evening should Staal and Del Zotto be unable to play. If Asham can't play it is likely that rookie Christian Thomas would make his NHL debut. Thomas was recalled from the Whale, but his flight into Montreal was cancelled late last night due to bad weather and he missed the morning skate. He is expected to arrive in time to play if needed in Montreal tonight.
"I know he's a hard-working kid who has scored a lot of goals along the way here, and has played better and better for our minor league team," Tortorella said of the 20 year-old Thomas. "I'm not sure if he's even in the lineup tonight, but if he does play we just hope he gives us a little bit of a spark."
Share your thoughts below on the Rangers suddenly ravaged lineup, as well as the decision to start Marty Biron in goal tonight.