Despite winning on the back of young Alexandar Georgiev, one of the New York Rangers most glaring issues is still obviously present.
The star, of course, was backup goalie Alexandar Georgiev who stopped a career-high 55 shots.
Georgiev’s effort made him the seventh Ranger in history to put up 50 or more saves in a single game and his 55 saves are the second-most all-time in franchise history. Mike Richter holds the franchise single-game record with 59 saves on Jan. 31, 1991 in a 3-3 overtime tie with the Vancouver Canucks.
Celebrating his 23rd birthday, Georgiev was the second goalie in the last 32 years to put up 50-plus saves on his birthday. The last one to do it was the Rangers very own Henrik Lundqvist when he stopped 50 Calgary Flames shots in a 3-1 win last season.
This was a great win for the Rangers. However, because of Georgiev’s performance, nobody is talking about what the Rangers didn’t do right this game.
So I am going to ask this question. Are we not going to acknowledge that the Rangers allowed 56 shots?
I don’t mean to rain on the Rangers parade after a win, but to not talk about how many shots were allowed is being dishonest to ourselves. The only Ranger who was able to answer the firepower of that explosive Maple Leafs offense was Georgiev.
Every now and then, a goalie has to steal one for his team. That is exactly what Georgiev did Sunday night. Even Richter had to it in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals in 1994. But this habit of allowing a huge workload for your goaltender is something that needs to stop.
Shots against have been a recurring problem with the Rangers this season. The Blueshirts currently sit seventh in the league in shots on goal allowed. They average 33 shots against per game, placing for fifth most in the NHL.
Though Georgiev and Lundqvist have been doing their best to keep the puck out of the net, letting up these opportunities is playing with fire. The Rangers currently sport the eighth highest goals against average in the league with 3.27. In total goals allowed, they sit in ninth with 182 goals with a -26 goal differential.
Back to the game against the Leafs.
This is in no way insinuating that the Rangers didn’t bring any effort Sunday. On the offensive side on the ice, the Blueshirts did what they needed to do. They put up 30 shots and cashed in on four. Ninety percent of the time that will get your team the victory. But if this team wants to translate out of the rebuild quickly, then they need to limit the number of shots that their goalie has to face.
Lundqvist and Georgiev won’t always be able to bail them out.
To be fair, it was the Maple Leafs. With John Tavares and Auston Matthews among others, that team is stacked with talent up front that very few, if any, other NHL teams can match. That and the Rangers defense is still, for the most part, very young.
However, allowing over 50 shots on goal is not a good defensive performance and something that needs work. Anywhere between 30-40 is shots is a lot already.
Lundqvist being where he is in his career will eventually have to pass the torch to Georgiev or Igor Shestyorkin (or maybe someone else who will surprise us).
If the Blueshirts don’t limit those quality opportunities, the new goalie(s) will have a lot on their plate when their time comes, or even worse, the team can find themselves in the same spot years later.