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Grading the Islanders: Martin Biron, third wheel

It began with tough luck and no goal support, evolved into rusty appearances once Dwayne Roloson secured the #1 job (later handed to Rick DiPietro for a weekend), and finished in a Yann Danis-esque mix of strong wins and puzzling blowout losses.

And that's not even getting into the whole trade deadline madness.

Coaches will tell you the goalie is your most important penalty killer -- and Martin Biron suffered there along with the rest of his team. But at 5-on-5, one factor ailed Biron more than any other: Goal support.

Near-complete figures from (*missing a game or two each):

Islanders 5-on-5 play GP GF GA GF/60 min
GA/60 min
+/- per 60 min
2009-10 - Martin Biron 28* 38 53 1.53 2.70 -0.76
2009-10 - Dwayne Roloson 48* 94 100 2.65 2.82 -0.17
2009-10 - Rick DiPietro 8 10 16 1.60 2.56 -0.96

Pretty similar goals against at 5-on-5 for Roloson and Biron (albeit in roughly half as many games for Biron), while Roloson had considerably more goal support. In fact, other than a 5-0 shutout of his former teammates known as the Sabres, Biron found getting any goal support from his new teammates pretty hard to come by in the early going.

How about work on the penalty kill? Biron got a raw deal there, although from observing performances I would argue his flaws -- be they inherent or be they from rust -- brought some of that on himself.

Islanders at 4-on-5 PK
GP PK TOI/60 min
GA GA/60 min 4-on-5 PK
2009-10 - Martin Biron 28* 5.48 29 11.34
2009-10 - Dwayne Roloson 48* 5.32 35 8.22
2009-10 - Rick DiPietro 8 2.98 3 7.56

Similar amounts of PK time for the top two, but dissimilar amounts of goals conceded.

Among Biron's weaknesses that appeared periodically, I would count short-side goals, rebound control, and maintaining high-percentage positioning in the crease. Sometimes it wasn't that he couldn't make the save, it was that he was on his butt in the crease or elsewhere for the rebound. Some of his wilder poke-check attempts in the shootout were symbolic of his tendency to freelance.

That said, with regular work his flaws might be ironed out. It's hard for a featured goalie to go back to part-time or backup duty. There was that four-game win streak at the beginning of April where he looked like his old self in three of those four wins. Then again, that was followed by the 11 goals allowed on 47 shots in his final two starts at Pittsburgh and at New Jersey.

We'll never know what might have been, but when people complain that Garth didn't fetch something for Biron at the deadline, I look around and wonder exactly which team they believe watched Biron's 09-10 form and decided it was worth giving up a real asset to make him be "the guy" heading into the playoffs.

Martin Biron

#43 / Goalie / New York Islanders



Aug 15, 1977

10 + Buf call-up years

UFA, was at $1.4 million

"Dude, we have TWO real goalies!"

2009-10 - Martin Biron 29 1634 9 14 58 89 3.27 859 770 .896 1

The Poem

(A tradition here, so you just have to deal with it.)

From bench or on ice
The best masked trash-talker in the game
Good quote, good interview
But not a good trade deadline name

As this forced marriage went sour
He remained the good soldier
Maybe next year will be sweeter
Though he be one more year older

The Grade

So what to make of Biron's season? When he was signed, I was on a beach and pleasantly surprised to hear just how serious the Islanders were about avoiding the DiPietro soap opera of the year before. I generally viewed Roloson as the better goalie, but with Roloson's age and Biron's history I just liked the insurance: The odds that at least one of them would deliver a #1-caliber season, and maybe the other would provide enough to be trade deadline bait. Roloson mostly did the former. Despite a few nice moments, Biron did neither, turning in a sub-.900 save percentage, which is a pretty intolerable figure though it comes with the usual caveats.

However, his pleasant presence and good humor, his good streaks, and his willingness to stand up for his team are duly noted. That early-season headlock on Patrick Kaleta (pictured) alone will live in my memory for quite some time.

As usual give your grade in the poll, judging Biron's performance relative to your preseason expectations. So 5 or 6 means he met whatever expectations you had, while anything above (7-10) is ... above, and anything below (1-4) is ... yeah, below.