How Biron improves Blueshirts for playoffs

A few days back, Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said the acquisition of backup netminder Martin Biron would be huge in helping him stay fresh for the playoffs. Whether the Blueshirts can get back to the second season is another issue, but his assessment about regular-season heavy lifting and playoff fall-off is right on the money.

For the past two seasons, ESPN Insider has teamed with Puck Prospectus to serve up a Hot Goalie Index heading into the playoffs. The idea was to see if we could find a way to predict which goalies were most likely to stand on their head and steal a series. The formula for the index is based on several factors, but one of them is fresh legs. Author, and formula creator, Timo Seppa explains in the 2009 article:

“It's not a long-term trend, but over the past four postseason tournaments, there is a strong indication that a greater workload may decrease a goalie's chances of winning a playoff series. Over that period, the average playoff series-winning goalie played in six fewer regular-season games and faced 170 fewer shots on goal than his opponent. As a case in point, a well-rested Chris Osgood posted a .930 save percentage last postseason [2008], after facing only 976 shots over 43 games during the regular season.”

Here’s what the index looked like last season. For non-Insiders, the top four are Ilya Bryzgalov, Jaroslav Halak, Tuukka Rask and Antti Niemi. I think we all remember how well those last three netminders carried their teams in the postseason. And it seems more than a coincidence that none of those three started more than 43 games last season.

Lundqvist isn’t going to sit for half a season, but giving him a few extra nights’ rest could go a long way in the playoffs. Now the Rangers just have to, you know, get there.

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