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The Return of Alexandar Georgiev

Georgiev joined the team prior to the letter, and was around to bridge to gap from Henrik Lundqvist to Igor Shesterkin.

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Washington Capitals v New York Rangers Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

Tonight Alexandar Georgiev returns to Madison Square Garden for the first time since joining the Colorado Avalanche, and he will start against the team that took a chance on him as a undrafted free agent. The Colorado Avalanche are the defending Stanley Cup Champions and a really talented team, and it provides the Rangers an opportunity to bounce back after an underwhelming performance.

I think it is fair to say that no one was all too upset to see Georgiev traded this offseason, as it made sense for both him and the New York Rangers. Fans certainly weren’t happy with how things ended, specifically a season which saw him post a -6.74 GSAA and a -5.3 GSAx per Evolving-Hockey. But it would be wrong to deny that as far as backup goaltenders go, Georgiev was a decent one that didn’t always get the credit he deserved. This isn’t to say he was an All-Star, but I think with the benefit of time and reflection things often got a little more heated with Georgiev than he probably deserved.

The reaction he gets from the crowd will be interesting, but he’s in a good spot this year to try and prove himself as a starter, and play in a manner that enable him to have a decent career in the NHL.

The Rangers went on a deep playoff run in 2013-14, 2014-15, bowed out in the first round in 2015-16, and then were upset in the Semi Finals by the Ottawa Senators in 2016-17. That summer Georgiev joined the team as an undrafted free agent after participating in prospect camp, and was assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Fast forward a few months and the Rangers release a letter in which the team announce the intent to rebuild, and there was Georgiev alongside aging franchise legend Henrik Lundqvist. At this time the hope was that Igor Shesterkin to be the real deal to succeed Lundqvist when he was ready, but Georgiev was there as a placeholder who showed some promise early. No one ever expected him to be the one, but it was potentially another case of the Rangers plucking a goaltender and having Benoit Allaire work his magic.

Georgiev appeared in 10 games during the 2017-18 season, 33 in 2018-19, 23 in 19-20, 19 during the 21-22 season, and 33 during his final year in New York. While the playing time was on par with what he’d received previously, it was tough for him to get into a rhythm.

Last year was a bit of a weird year for Georgiev as it saw Igor Shesterkin truly spread his wings for the first time fully as the undisputed No. 1 goaltender. Georgiev handled things to the best of his abilities, and for the most part embraced the change.

Last season, per NHL dot com, Georgiev made 2 starts on 0 days rest, 7 starts on 1 day of rest, 5 starts on 2 days of rest, and 19 starts on 4+ days of rest. On 0 days rest, Georgiev posted a .907 SV%, on 1 day of rest he posted a .917 SV%, on 2 days of rest he posted a .909 SV%, and on 4+ days of rest his save percentage dropped all the way down to .886.

It is possible that last year was a fluke, as his splits based on days rest were a mixed bag in 2020-21, and 2019-20 respectively. Using a 34 game sample size from 2019-20, here’s how Georgiev performed based on how much rest he had between starts.

  • 0 Days Rest: 3 starts, .927 SV%
  • 1 Day Rest: 7 starts, .907 SV%
  • 2 Days Rest: 2 starts, .875 SV%
  • 3 Days Rest: 3 starts, .894 SV%
  • 4 Days Rest: 15 starts, .918 SV%

In totality, Georgiev appeared in 133 games with the Rangers, he posted a -0.67 GSAA, and a 3.64 GSAx. He had many memorable starts and moments whether it be his 44-save shutout vs. the Carolina Hurricanes before last year’s trade deadline, a 55-save performance on his birthday vs. the Maple Leafs, or a stop of Evgeni Malkin on a penalty shot during his first season to force a game to overtime.

Tonight will be a good way to officially close a chapter on New York Rangers history which saw the team transition from one franchise starter to potentially another. Georgiev’s role wasn’t a large one, but it is only fair to recognize the contributions he made, and how he vastly exceeded expectations considering when and how he joined the organization.

Once the puck drops the time for cheering and recognition stops, but prior to that it should be nice for Georgiev to get one more show of recognition from the Garden faithful. In four games with Colorado, Georgiev is 3-0-1 with a 2.76 GAA, a .908 SV%, a 0.25 GSAA, and a -0.37 GSAx. Naturally that means a shutout or a blowout is coming tonight. We shall see which extreme transpires.