New York Rangers: Who the Most Important Player of the 2011-12 Season Will Be

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New York Rangers: Who the Most Important Player of the 2011-12 Season Will Be
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For the New York Rangers to advance further in the playoffs and be a true Stanley Cup contender, they are going to need to rely on their most valuable player, goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

The two-time all-star has led the team to the playoffs in five of his six seasons and is consistently one of the best goalies in the NHL. He has played more than 70 games in four seasons, which has taken a toll when the games have counted the most, i.e. the playoffs. That is why the Rangers’ most important player is backup goalie Martin Biron.

Biron is a more than capable veteran who can fill in for Lundqvist on a regular basis. Biron played in 17 games last year and had a 2.13 GAA before breaking his collarbone and missing the rest of the season. If Biron plays 25-30 games this season, then Lundqvist will be fresher for the playoffs.

In the worst case scenario where Lundqvist gets hurt, Biron has had experience starting and could handle the load in the playoffs. Because he’s been around so long, people tend to forget that he’s only 34 and hasn’t had a heavy workload over the the past few seasons.

Biron also has a great personality and can be a sounding board for Lundqvist to turn to when he wants to talk strategy. He’s popular in the locker room with the other players because is comfortable with his role and place on the team.

This also happens to be a big year for Biron since he’ll be a free agent at the end of the season and he’ll want to prove his worth. He realizes that Lundqvist is "the guy" in New York and that there aren’t any solid goalie prospects in the Rangers’ organization. If Biron can stay healthy and play well, he’ll have a great chance of sticking around for the next few years.

Most people think a backup goalie is replaceable, but as the past several seasons have shown, the best teams have a good backup goalie and it won't be any different for the Rangers. That is why Biron is the most important Ranger and why the team’s success may be directly contingent on his health, ability to play well and ability to gain the confidence of the coaching staff.

Follow me on Twitter @brettkaplan.

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