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In many ways, one of the cool things to admire about Alex Georgiev is his poise. Since joining the Rangers, the birthday boy who blows out 25 candles when he makes his first start since the sad episode following a 5-4 overtime loss to the Pens, has always displayed a level of maturity.
Win or lose, his calm demeanor never changes. Not even after the altercation with former teammate Tony DeAngelo, who’s since been dismissed by the organization for detrimental behavior that cost him his job. Despite a sad incident that took place over a week ago in Pittsburgh, the 25-year old Georgiev has moved on. When asked by New York Post columnist Larry Brooks about what happened, the unflappable netminder chose to take the high road. A wise move.
“I don’t want to elaborate on what happened. I just want to keep it in the past,” he told Brooks. “Emotions happened, and that’s all I can say.
“I wish Tony the best moving forward.”
That’s the right way to handle such a difficult situation. It hasn’t been easy for Georgiev or the team. Despite made up rumors to the contrary, DeAngelo was a popular teammate. However, his polarizing behavior got him in trouble. It was more than he was worth. That despite what he contributed last year.
All of it’s in the past. For Georgiev, he gets a chance to return to net when the Blueshirts step up in competition and host the Bruins for the first of two over three days at Madison Square Garden. It’s an opportunity for him to get back on track. After shutting out the Islanders to start the season, he’s lost three straight decisions (0-2-1) by allowing 12 goals on 82 shots. That translates to an ugly 4.50 GAA and .854 save percentage.
Rangers coach David Quinn wants to get him back in. Igor Shestyorkin performed very well the past three starts. But with a busy schedule, the third-year coach emphasized how important it is to have two goalies for this strange season.
“I think [Alex] has handled [the fallout] it well,” Quinn stated. “It’s been over a week now and I think we’ve all moved past it. Our guys are in a good spot and he’s in a good spot. He’s looked good in practice.
“I think it’s important for him to get in the net for a variety of reasons. We’re going to need him, one, and two, he wants to play. I think this will help him to continue to move forward here but I think he’s moved forward anyway.”
Of course, he’s correct. Georgiev needs to get righted. It’ll not be easy facing the division-leading Bruins. Boston is 8-1-2 with 18 points in 11 games. Despite star power forward David Pastrnak missing time, they haven’t missed a beat. Led by future Hall of Famer Patrice Bergeron (6-9-15) and the game’s best overall left wing Brad Marchand (7-8-15), they’re where they usually are.
Even after letting former captain Zdeno Chara go to Washington and Torrey Krug sign in St. Louis, the Bruins haven’t missed a beat. In four games since returning, Pastrnak is on fire with eight points (5-3-8). Part of the NHL’s best line, he’s the finisher who’s particularly dangerous on the power play.
Charlie McAvoy is third in team scoring with 10 points while playing mean defense. David Krejci is still there chipping in nine assists and key additions Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith have added depth scoring. Tuukka Rask is still one of the best starting goalies with Jaro Halak a good backup.
This is going to be a big challenge. Especially coming off a 2-0 shutout defeat to the Islanders. A frustrating game due to how well they played the first 50 minutes before falling apart. Offense is at a premium. If Artemi Panarin doesn’t get on the score sheet, it’s problematic. Until Mika Zibanejad snaps out of his funk, there isn’t enough scoring.
The power play has been equally frustrating. It’s too reliant on the number one unit which features Panarin, Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Adam Fox and Pavel Buchnevich. They stay on for too long and despite creating looks, aren’t finishing enough due to Zibanejad’s struggles. That leaves the second unit of Kaapo Kakko, Ryan Strome, Alexis Lafreniere, Brendan Lemieux and Jacob Trouba with little time to get anything set up.
Speaking of Lafreniere, he remains stuck on one goal in 11 games. Part of the problem is he’s been moved around from line to line. Not in the top six, he currently plays with Brett Howden and Phil Di Giuseppe (PDG). They had a good game on Monday night. For Lafreniere, it’s about continuing to create chances and bring energy to his shifts. It would be nice if the coach didn’t shorten his shifts in crunch time.
It’ll be interesting to see how the Rangers respond to the upcoming challenge. After the Bruins, it’s the Flyers. Another good team that can score goals with former Blueshirt Kevin Hayes off to an impressive start in his second year there.
We’ll see how Georgiev fares along with the team on Wednesday night.