Alexandar Georgiev has flipped the script in the last month or so after what was without a doubt one of the toughest years of his NHL career.
For the Rangers backup goalie has now held six of his last seven opponents to two goals or fewer following his 33-save performance in the Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Oilers on Monday night at Madison Square Garden. For context, Georgiev only limited one opponent to two goals in his first five starts of the season.
“I’m just glad I get the chance to play a little bit more now in the middle of the season,” he said after the win, which improved the Rangers to 22-8-4. “Things are going well for us defensively, the guys are doing a really good job. [They] help me a lot, not to let them have too many secondary scoring chances, no rebounds. They clear the way for me pretty well, they’re doing a really good job right now.”
Georgiev’s confidence was beginning to falter at the beginning of the season and his dwindling playing time in favor of usual starter Igor Shesterkin didn’t help. After he had posted a career-low .905 save percentage during the 2020-21 season, Georgiev’s struggles seemingly carried over.
When Shesterkin landed on injured reserve with a suspected groin injury, however, Georgiev was able to get an extended run in goal. The consistent playing time allowed Georgiev to rediscover his game and shake himself out of some bad habits he had fallen into.
Prior to the holiday break, the Bulgarian-born netminder was the closest he had been to the top of his game in a while. The key, according to Georgiev, was to maintain the same mindset.
Georgiev came up with five saves on Oilers star Connor McDavid alone, in addition to a couple on Leon Draisaitl. Early in the second period, Georgiev stifled McDavid on the rush before making a sprawling stop against Jesse Puljujarvi.
“I feel like just picking up where I left off,” Georgiev said. “I felt pretty good about my game the last few games and just tried to come back and do the same thing. Luckily, I didn’t miss too much time with COVID, only couple games. I was back pretty quick, got a couple skates in that helped a lot.”
Top-pair defenseman Ryan Lindgren and fourth-line center Kevin Rooney both cleared COVID-19 protocol and returned to the lineup Monday night after each missed the previous three games.
As a result, the Rangers reassigned forward Tim Gettinger to the taxi squad. Usual third-pair defenseman Patrik Nemeth also missed his second straight game due to what the team said was a “non-COVID issue.”
Zac Jones drew into the Rangers’ lineup for a second straight game after making his season debut against the Lightning on Sunday, this time forging the third defensive pairing with Libor Hajek.
“He’s got some good jump and he looked confident out there again,” head coach Gerard Gallant said of why he stuck with Jones. “Confidence is a big word, but he looks good and we want to see him a little bit. He played a good first game and tonight he was good again. He’s getting an opportunity and we can see some of our prospects.”
View original post