In light of Sunday night’s car accident that will sideline Igor Shesterkin for at least “a couple weeks,” the Rangers net has gone back to Alex Georgiev as the No. 1 option. With the Blueshirts still only four points out of the second wild-card spot and 21 games remaining in the regular season, Georgiev was set to get the first start after the trade deadline, going out to the Coliseum to face the Islanders on Tuesday night.
“I hope I get more opportunities now,” Georgiev said after Monday’s practice. “I feel really good about my practices and where my game is right now.”
Of course the organization was shaken up by the news of the car accident, in which Shesterkin suffered a non-displaced rib fracture. The club had been dealing with the three-goalie situation since Shesterkin was called up Jan. 6, with the 24-year-old Russian emerging as the clear-cut No. 1. That left legend Henrik Lundqvist relegated to making just three starts in the past seven weeks.
Georgiev has a terrific history against the Islanders, but this next stretch without Shesterkin should be a good audition. The 24-year-old is set to be a restricted free agent this summer, and could stick around if the team finds a way to move on from the final year of Lundqvist’s contract.
But the club is also looking to play meaningful games down the stretch, and so starting the goalie who is playing the best will be a priority.
“We want our club to keep winning, we want them to go through the experience of a chase down the stretch for the playoffs,” team president John Davidson said. “It’s great for our young players in particular, and our veteran players, too. If we get there, fantastic. If we don’t, it’ll be a good experience and we’ll just keep moving along as we try to build this into something.”
The Rangers sent down Brett Howden and Julien Gauthier to AHL Hartford in a paper transaction so they could be eligible for the playoffs with the Wolf Pack. When they were recalled, it left the Blueshirts with only two more recalls before the end of the regular season.
If Pavel Buchnevich (car accident) and Chris Kreider (sick on Monday) can’t play Tuesday, then an emergency recall can be made that won’t count against the remaining two.
General manager Jeff Gorton said Brendan Smith will step in Tuesday for the traded Brady Skjei on the back end.