Martin Biron

Biron clears waivers, uncertain about future

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Veteran Rangers goalie Martin Biron cleared waivers on Tuesday, but it’s unclear what lies ahead.

Biron, 36, will reportedly take a few days to figure out if he’ll report to AHL Hartford or consider retirement, according to TVA’s Louis Jean.

It’s been an odd past few weeks for the longtime NHLer. Things began strangely at Rangers’ training camp — Biron was absent for the first two days with an unspecified personal issue, forcing the Blueshirts to bring in Johan Hedberg on a PTO.

Upon his return, Biron spoke guardedly about his absence:

“I’m where I need to be. I’m focused and I’m really where I wanted to be this morning.

“I was excited to be here. I was excited to be on the ice and get going with the guys, definitely. I’m not going to go into details, it’s just how life is sometimes and you’ve got to roll with it.

“Again, I was fortunate I was able to get home and now to be back.”

According to ESPN New York, Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault “appear unconvinced” about Biron as the club’s backup right from start of camp. Vigneault’s opinion went unchanged early in the regular season — strengthened, even — after Biron went 0-1-0 in two appearances with a 7.61 GAA and .763 save percentage.

“It’s a performance-based business, and the organization felt Marty’s first two performances were not what we expected, [so] we decided to put him on waivers,” Vigneault said. “We’re gonna get together this afternoon as a group and talk about where we go from there.”

What’s odd is that, statistically speaking, Biron’s been one of the NHL’s best backup goalies over the last two years.

He didn’t play much in 2013, but was solid when called upon, posting a 2-2-1 record with a .917 save percentage and 2.32 GAA.

The year prior he appeared in 21 games, posting a 12-6-2 record with a .904 save percentage and 2.46 GAA.

He was also lauded for a strong working relationship with starter Henrik Lundqvist.

Biron could accept his fate with the Rangers and report to the American League, a place he hasn’t played since a rehab assignment during the 2009-10 campaign. Teammate Arron Asham, who was placed on waivers as well, has already said he’d report to Hartford.

Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds

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The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.

San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.

The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.

Here’s the goal:

Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.

Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.

Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.

Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.

The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.

Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.

The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.

Video: Marc-Edouard Vlasic saved by his visor after taking Shea Weber shot to the face

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It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.

After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.

In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.

You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.

Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:

It sounds like Olli Maatta won’t be ready for Game 3

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You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.

After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.

“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.

“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”

After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.

“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”

And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.

Related:

Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta

Brooks Orpik suspended three games for hit on Olli Maatta

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Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.

Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.

Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:

“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”

To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.

This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.