When they drop the puck in an hour on Valentine’s Day at Columbus, it’ll again be Alex Georgiev starting for the Rangers. With coach David Quinn updating the status of new number one goalie Igor Shesterkin due to a minor ankle injury he suffered in a win over the Jets, he’s opted to give the prized rookie extra time off.
It makes sense. They don’t want to take any chances. Make sure Shesterkin is ready to go before bringing him back. He’s won six of his first seven starts and proven to be the best of the three goalies. If they feel he’s ready for Sunday’s matinee versus the Bruins, I have to believe he’ll be back in net.
For now, it appears Quinn is more comfortable with Georgiev as the backup than Henrik Lundqvist. This has all been covered before and it’s becoming annoying. I actually am surprised Lundqvist isn’t starting tonight considering it’s the second game of a back-to-back. Maybe it’s a signal of where things are for the soon to be 38-year old. He turns it on March 2.
Going with Georgiev a second consecutive night in a row is interesting. He was okay in last night’s come from behind win at Minnesota. He didn’t have much work finishing with 23 saves. However, Georgiev made some key stops including on a couple of breakaways. An area Lundqvist used to be money at.
Apparently, that 4-3 shootout win signaled the end for Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. He was given his walking papers today. He becomes the eighth coaching casualty. Yikes.
So, it’ll be Georgiev versus Elvis Merzlikins. The Blue Jackets are tied in points (71) with the Flyers for the wildcard. By virtue of three more ROW, they are in the first wildcard. Both teams have 23 regulation wins and 24 games left.
With their second three-game winning streak of the season, the Rangers enter with 62 points with 26 games remaining. They’re nine points out. So if they’re to have any chance, they need to win this game in regulation. The last one was the disappointing one goal home loss in which Oliver Bjorkstrand scored with over 30 seconds left at MSG. A game I was at.
The Jackets are without Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones. They’re trying to get in despite all the injuries they’ve had in an ultra competitive Metro Division. I wouldn’t write off the Hurricanes yet. But they’re clearly struggling since the loss of top defenseman Dougie Hamilton. They lack a true number one goalie. Lately, it’s been James Reimer over Petr Mrazek. Is that good enough to squeak in?
As for any crazy rumors of the Canes and Blueshirts talking about Lundqvist, I’ll believe it when I see it. Basically, I don’t believe it. I don’t see him getting moved.
I’m definitely curious to see how the Rangers come out. Don’t forget it’s also a back-to-back for the Blue Jackets, who were 4-3 losers at the Sabres due to a gigantic three-point night from star Jack Eichel. He’s unreal. Too bad he plays on such a bad team.
This is the third game in four nights for the Blueshirts. They can actually run the table on the three game road trip. We’ll see if they’re up to the difficult task.