When the Rangers host the Canadiens tonight at Madison Square Garden, it’ll be Alexandar Georgiev in net again. Originally, Henrik Lundqvist was supposed to get the start in the second game of a back-to-back. However, an illness will prevent him from playing.
In fact, during Georgiev’s tremendous 45 save performance last night in stealing a win at Columbus, the Rangers had an emergency backup. What if Georgiev had went down? Then it would’ve been a unique situation like we once saw happen with the Blackhawks during ’17-18 when Scott Foster appeared in a game and posted a perfect save percentage of 1.000 for stopping all seven shots he faced in a Chicago 6-2 win.
If not for Georgiev on Thursday night, the Rangers would’ve been blown out of Columbus all the way back home. They gave up 18 shots in both the first and third periods. It was the outstanding play of the second-year goalie who robbed Oliver Bjorkstrand point blank with over two minutes left, that allowed them to escape with a 3-2 victory.
As much as it was about Artemi Panarin, who scored the game-winner on a terrific one touch pass from Tony DeAngelo with under five minutes remaining in the second period, it was Alexandar The Great who stole the show. His team was outshot by a ridiculous 47-19 and out-attempted by an even crazier 85-39. But somehow won thanks to Georgiev.
So, the 23-year old makes his third start in four games against a struggling Montreal club, who will be out for revenge. How could anyone forget what happened almost two weeks ago at Bell Centre? For only the fourth time in franchise history, the Blueshirts came back from a 4-0 deficit to stun the Habs 6-5 in regulation. Montreal has lost nine of their last 10 including a 3-2 home loss last night to spoil Cayden Primeau’s debut. They did get points in three of the defeats due to reaching overtime. The only win came on Tuesday when they outplayed the Islanders defeat them 4-2 in Montreal.
Carey Price will make the start. You would think a rested Price against a tired Georgiev, who had to work extra hard, should be in Montreal’s favor. That’s why I’m leaning towards the Habs. Neither team plays great defensively. As we saw in the first meeting, a four goal lead wasn’t enough for the Canadiens to win against a classic Original Six rival they usually own up north.
Libor Hajek wore a knee brace following a sprained knee that limited him to in five minutes yesterday. It could finally be the return of Marc Staal. Well, it’s official. Staal will be playing for now.
Let the complaints begin. Hajek was definitely not as polished as fellow rookies Adam Fox or Ryan Lindgren, who actually form the most effective Rangers pair at even strength. That’s due to Brady Skjei continuing to have inconsistencies in his game even though he’s back with Jacob Trouba, whose play has steadied. It looks like DeAngelo and Staal are back together.
Who will the team recall as an extra D? Or are they okay due to Brendan Smith, who plays on the fourth line as a forward. He can always shift back to his natural position. He does it during the penalty kill. Smith has been invaluable. Who ever would’ve believed that?
Greg McKegg returns after missing six straight due to a lower body injury. As expected, Boo Nieves was assigned to Hartford. So, you’re probably looking at McKegg with Brett Howden and Smith as the fourth line.
Here’s a cool Rangers flashback to ’96. I remember this sequence too. It’s as good a three save sequence as I’ve ever seen. And by Mike Richter. ☺️
I believe that was that first round series they dropped the first two games at MSG, then went into Montreal and won both games. They wound up winning Game Five at home and finishing off the Habs in hostile territory to win that series in six. Richter was pretty amazing. It’s funny how some fans forget that part. I never have. He’s my favorite Rangers goalie.
That’s gonna do it for now. Game review later.