The backup goaltender position is one of the most important positions for a hockey club and it looks like the New York Rangers have found their man in young Alexandar Georgiev.
Coming into the season, the Rangers thought that Ondrej Pavelec could be the answer behind Lundqvist. They believed that working with goalie coach Benoit Allaire could do wonders with his game, but that was never the case.
Instead, Pavelec looked shaky in net and was never really someone head coach Alain Vigneault could trust. In the month of November alone, Pavelec only saw action in two games. Vigneault decided that the team was better off with Lundqvist in net for 10 of the 12 games the Blueshirts played that month.
Pavelec had his moments in net, coming up with some very big wins for the Blueshirts. He was forced to make 40 or more saves in three of his 10 starts, winning one of those games (1-1-1). Aside from those stars, the guy put up a porous goals-against-average of 3.01 this season.
Georgiev was having a solid season in Hartford where he won eight of his last nine starts allowing 15 goals in that span. Those numbers are overshadowed by his numbers earlier in the season when Hartford was struggling. Nonetheless, he got the call and some were wondering if he would see game action. With the Rangers playing in some back-to-backs, and 15 games in the month of March, Vigneault would have no choice but to give the 22-year-old a chance in net.
In his NHL debut, Georgiev did nothing but impress. The Rangers were in the midst of a four-game losing streak and Lundqvist had just given 13 goals in his last two games. Georgiev would have to face 40 shots in his debut against Montreal, making 38 saves.
Look at how he stayed with Brendan Gallagher and kicked the puck over into the corner preventing a rebound opportunity. Another thing to look at here is his head. It doesn’t move one bit, allowing him to watch the puck. That’s something he has shown us in all three starts of his starts in the NHL.
Vigneault was so impressed with Georgiev’s debut that he would be given another start the following night at Madison Square Garden. He impressed again making 33 saves against Minnesota, but the Rangers never really gave him a chance to be successful in that game.
Now no one is saying that Georgiev will be the next great Ranger goalie. He’s still young and has some work to do. Just like any young player on this roster, he will be subject to mistakes like he did against Edmonton.
One of the reasons to get excited over Georgiev is the fact that he is just 22-years-old. He has been able to stand on his head in all three of the games he’s started and still has room to grow. He has been working with Benoit Allaire and just being around a guy like Lundqvist can do nothing but good for him.
Should Georgiev continue to play at this pace, the Rangers will have a tough decision to make when Pavelec returns to the lineup. Georgiev is younger, has more upside and can only benefit from staying in the NHL. We already know what Pavelec is, we don’t know what Georgiev is yet and he should be given the opportunity to continue to show us like they did with Cam Talbot and Antti Raanta.
He is the answer at the backup goaltender position.