Rangers need Alex Georgiev to find his game during daunting stretch

Asia's Tech News Daily

The backup goaltender will assume a position of increased prominence as the Rangers will face a more burdensome schedule the rest of the way, complicated by a yet-to-be rescheduled game in Ottawa plus another one at the Garden against the Islanders following Sunday’s postponement.

It thus becomes imperative for Alex Georgiev, if he is still the party of the second part behind Igor Shesterkin, to somehow find his game after a dreadful start to the season following last year’s uneven tour. Alternately, it becomes essential for general manager Chris Drury to find a more capable No. 2 if Georgiev is unable to get his act together.

Shesterkin, who has never played more than 39 games in a season either here or in the KHL (not including international events), has started 15 of the Blueshirts’ first 20 games. He is not only among the front-runners for the Vezina, the 25-year-old Russian is also a leading candidate for the Hart Trophy with a .933 save percentage, 2.22 GAA and myriad fancy underlying numbers.

But the schedule, albeit odd, has been reasonable enough to allow the Rangers to pile a heavy workload on Shesterkin. Not for long, though. Because starting Friday, the Blueshirts face as many sets of back-to-backs (three) within eight games as they will have confronted through their first 21 contests.

alexandar georgiev, igor shesterkin, new york rangers

Igor Shesterkin


After the Flyers are at the Garden Wednesday for Game 21, the Rangers are at home Friday against the Sharks and Saturday against the Blackhawks. Next, there is a game at Chicago on Dec. 7 followed the next night by a contest at home against the Avalanche. After a game at Buffalo on Dec. 10 and one at home against the Predators on Dec. 12, there is another back-to-back looming, at Colorado on Dec. 14 and at Arizona on Dec. 15.

Overall, the Rangers currently have 11 sets of back-to-backs remaining before the league reschedules the two postponed matches, the first resulting in a postponement in Ottawa on Nov. 20. That one, by the way, erased an originally scheduled back-to-back.

Not counting the planned Olympic break from Feb. 1 through Feb. 24, the Blueshirts go more than two days between games only three times. They are off between Dec. 17 and Dec. 22; off between Jan. 15 and Jan. 19 and off between March 15 and 19.

It appears as if the Garden and the Islanders would both be available for a makeup game on Dec. 19, but that may be a simplistic way of looking at things.

Regardless, the Rangers’ backup goaltender will be entrusted with a heavier workload going forward. And Georgiev’s work thus far, through which his .858 save percentage and underlying numbers are among the worst in the NHL, do not inspire confidence he will be able to handle the assignment.

alexandar georgiev, igor shesterkin, new york rangers

Alex Georgiev

Jason Szenes/New York Post

The Rangers, who scored 13 five-on-five goals through the first 10 games while going 6-2-2, doubled that total over the following 10 games, recording 26 five-on-five goals in going 7-2-1.

Chris Kreider leads the club with six goals at five-on-five while Alexis Lafreniere has five and Kevin Rooney, four.

The Blueshirts have scored 12 power-play goals and 11 at five-on-five for which the first unit has been on for each and every one of them.

Kreider, who has scored nine PPGs, has been on for all 12, as have Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox. Zibanejad has scored two PPGs while Panarin has one.

Ryan Strome, sidelined for four games early, has been on for nine PPGs while Lafreniere, filling in for No. 16 during the center’s COVID-related absence, has been on for two.

Kreider, Panarin, Zibanejad and Fox have between 66:54 and 68:16 of power-play time apiece, while second-unit staple Jacob Trouba, for example, has 23:03. That is reflective of the breakdown in which PP1 generally gets between 1:20 and 1:40 per man-advantage.

Zibanejad had a shooting percentage of 15.4 over his previous three seasons, scoring 95 goals on 615 shots. This year, Zibanejad has scored four goals on 50 shots for 8 percent. So there is reason to believe for those who believe in the law of averages.

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