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Player Profile: Martin Biron

Posted By Adam Gavriel On Feb 22 2011 @ 1:41 pm In New York Rangers | No Comments

It’s backup goalie time. Marty has been a pretty big part of the Rangers so far this season, even in his limited time between the pipes. Everywhere he’s played the fans have loved him because he is such a personable kind of guy, the media loves him because he’s not afraid to talk and you can tell he has the ultimate respect of his teammates as well.

Biron may be the best Rangers backup goalie in a while. Dethroning the likes of Steve Valiquette, Kevin Weekes, or Mike Dunham to name a few. I’m definitely the most confident in the Rangers ability to win with him in between the pipes if Hank needs to sit a game.

Here’s a few things you may not have known about Marty Biron…

Height: 6’2″

Weight: 180 lbs

Age: 33

Drafted: 1st round (16th overall) in 1995 by the Buffalo Sabres

Contract: $875K; unrestricted free agent after 2011-2012 season

Before the NHL:

Before making the jump to the AHL Marty Biron decided to improve his game by taking his talents to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. It’s tough to assess a goalies ability by stats alone from their Major Junior numbers as these leagues are highly noted for their offensive prowess. I’d say these days, anything under a goal against of 3 is impressive in the Q. For example, in this year’s QMJHL there are only 9 goalies who have appeared in 30 games or more that have established a goals against average of under 3. In Biron’s 4 seasons as a QMJHL netminder he put up three seasons of sub 3 goals against averages. Not to mention his rookie year number of a GAA of 2.48 which was good enough to win him best goaltender of the year in the entire CHL. It was after this season that caught the Sabres attention and Biron was drafted by them.

After finishing up his career in the QMJHL Biron went to play for the Rochester Americans in the AHL. Biron spent four seasons bouncing around between the Sabres and Americans before finally earning a full time shot in the NHL. His best season with the Amerks came in 98-99 when he posted a 2.07 gaa to go with a .930 sv% in 50 games. He also appeared in 20 playoff games that year with Rochester and played nearly unbeatable goaltending with a 2.16 GAA and .934 sv% This season again proved great for Biron as he won another league’s best goaltending award.

International:

Biron was on the 2002-2003 Canadian gold medal winning team at the World Championships however he did not appear in a game. No doubt that his off ice antics and charisma helped that team capture the gold

NHL Success:

Most of Marty’s NHL success came with the Sabres before the emergence of Ryan Miller as a top 5 goalie in the NHL. Marty was Buffalo’s primary go to guy for a good number of four seasons with Buffalo. His best season came in his second year starting with the team, 2001-2002 where Marty was sensational. Although it was a down year for the Sabres who went 35-35-11(ties)-1 and finished 10th in the standings (2 points ahead of the 11th placed Rangers) Biron was phenomenal. That season Marty’s numbers included a goals against average of 2.22 to go with a save percentage of .915 compiling a 31-28 record with 4 shutouts. The Sabres had so much confidence in Biron that they even traded away Dominik Hasek to let him take over the starting gig.

Biron would see his playing time dwindle over the rest of his career with the Sabres coinciding with the emergence of Ryan Miller and eventually Marty was traded mid-season to the “always searching for a goalie” Philadelphia Flyers.

Marty would spend 2.5 seasons with the Flyers and again he would continue to prove that he was a capable NHL goalie. Biron would even appear in 23 playoff games for the Flyers.

After his time with the Flyers was finished the questionable goalie situation on Long Island was thought to be solved when they brought in Marty Biron. That season the Islanders had three goalies under contract (DiPietro [obviously] and Dwayne Roloson) to battle for the starting spot. Marty would obtain the backup role behind Dwayne Roloson as DiPietro continued to recover from whatever injury he was suffering at the time (too many to keep track of).

Biron’s normal success as an NHL netminder went by the wayside on the Island and he was eventually shunned from the role of backup when DiPietro began to appear healthy again.

Numbers unimpressive and play fading, Marty would even spend a short stint in the AHL for the Sound Tigers. But all that did was prove that Marty was the consummate professional. An already heavily tenured goalie at the NHL level, not to mention a successful one, Marty did not pine when he was sent to the AHL but rather he went down there to ride the bus and get his games in, knowing he would obtain another opportunity, and boy did he.

It’s safe to say that Biron’s NHL career has been a well traveled one, although he’s stayed within the Tri-state area the whole time.

Outlook 2010-2011 and Beyond:

The gameplan was set this off-season by the New York Rangers who intended to give Lundqvist ~65 starts and have a backup who could handle a heavier than normal back up goalie role. When Marty Biron hit the FA market I was one of the people clamoring for him, thought he would be a great fit here with the Rangers after Valiquette’s game dwindled before our eyes (although to be fair, I also believed that Alex Auld could have excelled in this role for the Rangers).

When July 1st rolled around and the Rangers signed Biron I wrote in a blog post:

“This is a great signing by Sather, Biron is a perfect back up for a few reasons. One, he knows he can start games and carry a team so his play should push Henrik and vice versa, obviously the King’s throne is not, and never will be, up for grabs. Two, he came cheap, and he’s only here for two years, a good stop gap before Chad Johnson or Scott Stajcer will be able to consistently back up Henrik.

Biron played last season for the Islanders and wasn’t great, but don’t let those stats fool you because this guy can carry his weigh at the NHL level. Hopefully he’ll get anywhere from 15-20 games and keep Henrik fresh for the playoffs.”

Looks like I was a little off. With 21 games to go in the season, Biron has already played in 17 which puts him on pace to appear in around 25, more than I expected. But without hesitation, even looking at his numbers with the Islanders (notice that I did not post those in here) I knew Biron would be more than capable.

So far with the Rangers in his 17 games he has posted a goals against average of 2.13 and a save percentage of .923. Although his record only stands at 8-6, don’t let that fool you because it seems when Biron starts the team shuts it down hardcore defensively and appears to struggle offensively as he has definitely not gotten consistent offensive support when he is between the pipes.

I think he’s been a perfect fit for this Rangers team, a good veteran guy to have on the bench. You’ll notice during the games and especially before shootouts players on the Rangers going over to Marty for tips on what he’s seeing. So, he’s not sitting on the bench during games wallowing in pain that he’s not one the ice but he is staying vigilant. Staying awake and prepared for that chance that he might be needed to play in the game or help out a teammate with some advice. This is exactly the kind of character you’d want to have on the 6th youngest team in the NHL.

It was a great job by Sather signing Marty to that 2 year deal. There’s no signs that his game is going to slow down and we should be able to see the same thing we’re seeing this year next year on Broadway as well, which is fantastic because the Rangers goalie depth is awful.

Marty has done exactly what the coaching staff has asked of him this season, how can you ask for anything more out of a backup goalie? Thanks for not ditching New York after the Islanders treated you so poorly Marty, we love you here.

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