On Saturday night, New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev had one of the best games of his career.
Georgiev was impressive. There is no better word to use. Georgiev played like he was Carey Price or Patrick Roy. He was truly dynamic in net and except for Zach Hyman‘s goal, the Toronto Maple Leafs struggled to out-wit the Ruse, Bulgaria native.
The Rangers backup goaltender tallied 44 saves, only allowed one goal and posted a .978 save percentage. It was truly a spectacular performance given that many of the Maple Leafs scoring chances were in high danger situations. Per the below visual from Moneypuck.com, the bulk of the Maple Leafs’ scoring chances were from right around Georgiev’s crease. Many of these shots had a chance of scoring percentage of 10% and plus.
visual from moneypuck.com
In addition, per the below visual from moneypuck.com, the Toronto Maple Leafs had a 5.99 cumulative expected goals from scoring chances. If it wasn’t for Georgiev’s remarkable play in net, the Rangers might have left Scotiabank Arena with a loss.
visual from moneypuck.com
How Did Georgiev Pull This Off?
Honestly, I’m not sure how Georgiev was able to pull this off.
This season, Georgiev has a 0.909 SV%, a 2.93 goals against average (GAA) and a 0.827 high danger save percentage (HDSV%). Based on those numbers, he hasn’t been doing too bad as a backup goalie. He’s taken pressure off of Rangers starting goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist, but his numbers wouldn’t make you think that he’s capable of taking on tough competition like the Maple Leafs. You’d assume that the Rangers coaching staff would be looking to give him a lighter load, but instead they trust Georgiev. His last two starts against the Maple Leafs have been outstanding, so that’s probably why head coach David Quinn is comfortable with him in net against the Maple Leafs. Yet, Lundqvist is having a much better season and has been a more reliable goalie for the Rangers, even with him near the end of his career.
What’s even scarier is that Georgiev’s HDSV% ranks 48th in the NHL. Lundqvist, Curtis McElhinney, Price, Malcolm Subban, Cam Ward, Matt Murray, Tuukka Rask, Robin Lehner, Linus Ullmark, Carter Hart, Pekka Rinne, Jordan Binnington and Jimmy Howard all have higher HDSV% than Georgiev.
Can Georgiev Have Consistent Success?
Based on his performances against a tough Toronto Maple Leafs squad, I do believe that Georgiev can put up solid numbers if he has consistently solid performances from his defensive unit. The Rangers don’t have a great defensive unit. Aside from Anthony DeAngelo, Brady Skjei and Kevin Shattenkirk, there isn’t a lot of talent on the Rangers’ blue-line. The good news is that the Rangers have a lot of talent in their farm system (including John Gilmour, Joey Keane and K’Andre Miller) but it’s unclear how they’ll do in the NHL.
If the Rangers front office wants Georgiev to have consistent success in the NHL, they need to arm him with talent. But, they need to first decide if Georgiev is the future starter in Manhattan. As, they do have another goaltender in their farm system that could emerge as the Rangers’ future number one goalie.
Shestyorkin Or Georgiev?
Igor Shestyorkin has been an absolute beast with SKA St. Petersburg this season. In 28 games played, he’s put up a stellar SV% of .953 and a 1.11 GAA. It’s clear that Shestyorkin has talent and could be an elite goalie in the NHL one day, but Georgiev could be even better. So, the Rangers front office has to decide if they should invest in Georgiev and add free agents this summer, or delay major investing in free agents until Shestyorkin is ready to come to North America.
But, there is evidence that Shestyorkin might be willing to join the Rangers this year. Tom Urtz Jr. at SB Nation’s Blueshirt Banter talked about this in a recent post.
If he does come to North America, that could make Georgiev expendable. This means that the Rangers could look to trade the Belarusian national and get some value back for him. Unfortunately, the writing isn’t on the wall just yet, so it’s hard to assume what will happen.
This summer, all eyes will be on general manager, Jeff Gorton. Rangers fans will be hoping for closure on the goaltender situation and hopefully Gorton can provide just that.
stats from NHL.com, hockey-reference.com, NaturalStatTrick.com, MoneyPuck.com
visual from MoneyPuck.com
feature image photo credit – Nikos Michals