Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Biron To Start Against Panthers?; Practice Line Combinations

The New York Rangers will face the Florida Panthers tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden before heading to Pittsburgh to play the Penguins on Friday.  The back-to-back games and the Rangers looking to get Henrik Lundqvist as much rest as possible makes this a prime spot for Martin Biron to get a start.  According to Andrew Gross Biron was the first one off the ice at practice today which typically is a sign that he will in fact play tomorrow against the Panthers.

Playing Biron against the Panthers and giving Lundqvist three days off before facing the Penguins on the road is a smart move for the coaching staff. All points are extremely important, but there is always an added significance to divisional games because of the direct swing in the standings making each game a virtual four-point matchup.  Getting Biron right back in there after he struggled against the Capitals last Wednesday is also a good move to keep his confidence up.  The Rangers need Biron because no matter how good Lundqvist has been the Rangers are not in first place without the 7-2 contributions of their back-up. 

Other practice news revolved around the line combinations:
Hagelin-Boyle-Fedotenko (Wolski)
Rupp-Mitchell-Prust (Christensen)

Dubinsky has earned his promotion back to the top six with his recent play.  Hagelin and Boyle have worked very well together and pairing them with Fedotenko will not hurt anything.  The fourth line certainly worked during the Winter Classic as they combined for two goals and four assists.  

Interesting to see Wolski working with the Boyle line, which could mean he will slot in there when he is fully ready to go or it could just mean that with Christensen here as well they needed someone for Wolski to work.