The Rangers have needed stellar goaltending to win this season, and so far Georgiev has answered the call.
Though the Rangers have been struggling somewhat this season, Alexander Georgiev has been on fire lately. He had his second shutout of the season—and fourth of his career—last night in a 5-0 NYR win over Vegas. His first shutout this season came at the end of November when the Rangers beat the Devils 4-0. Despite a couple of earlier stumbles, Georgiev has been strong in a season where the Rangers have demanded a lot from their netminders to win games. And Georgiev has risen to the challenge admirably, continuing to improve his game and take steps in his journey from AHL prospect to legit NHL starter.
Georgiev was fundamental to last night’s win in Vegas. Even though the Rangers scored 5 goals, Vegas massively outshot them 38-25. This has been a trend for the Rangers who have been outshot in all but 6 of the 29 games they’ve played this season. They’ve been badly outshot by 10 or more shots in more than a quarter of their games so far—8 out of 29 to be precise. This disparity is becoming a real problem for the Rangers who have been relying mostly on stellar goaltending to keep the puck out of their net. In this context, Georgiev’s save percentage of .926 is even more remarkable. He also has a better win percentage than Lundqvist currently—.57 vs .41—though this could be because he has started fewer games than Lundqvist.
Part of the reason the Rangers have been so badly outshot this season probably has to do with their possession metrics. The Rangers only have a CF% of 43.0 at even strength, meaning they have possession of the puck for a little over 40% of their even-strength time. Low possession can be okay for a couple of games, but when it’s the trend of the season, it starts to become a little worrying and indicative that a team may get outshot or outmatched offensively. The influence of Georgiev and Lundqvist’s great goaltending also shows numerically. Despite having lower possession metrics, the Rangers only have 7.5% of high-danger scoring chances converted to goals against them. This is 1.2 percentage points lower than the league average of 8.7%. So even though the other team has the puck more, Georgiev and Lundqvist have been doing a great job keeping high-danger shots out of the net for the Rangers.
Though the Rangers net-minding has been above average this season, the team is coming up on a problem. With Shesterkin lighting it up in the AHL, the Rangers are going to have a log-jam in the net in the coming season. The solution would normally be to trade Georgiev, but he is not making that an easy answer with how well he’s been playing. He’s been a great asset to a team that needs its goalie to stand on his head right now and it would be a shame to see him go. However, given that the Rangers have a couple of promising prospecting in Huska and Lindbom as well as the fact that keeping Georgiev would mean re-signing him with an already tight salary cap, keeping him will be difficult.
If he’s being moved—which is likely—the Rangers should continue to hope for this standard of play to get a great return value. And if he’s not being moved until later, he should get the start more often to take some pressure off of Lundqvist.
The Rangers have two excellent goalies right now. They should use both of them.
Featured Image: Associated Press