The New York Rangers Have a Quandary in Net, One Aging Star and One Red Hot Backup

New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist
Dec 10, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (30) defends the goal against the Los Angeles Kings in the second period at Staples Center. The Kings defeated the Rangers 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Many in the sports world feel competition among players for a position is a good thing. This may or may not hold true for the New York Rangers and their goaltender situation this season.

For years the Rangers have relied on Henrik Lundqvist to man the nets for the Blueshirts. However, this year, the 37-year-old has been struggling a bit as he deals with minor back issues and a backup goaltender who has been very good in relief.  Lundqvist has struggled of late and has not won a game since November 27.  He will not have the immediate opportunity to change that as Alexandar Georgiev is scheduled to get the start in the net Friday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The New York Rangers have a quandary in goal:

Red Hot Backup

Georgiev, who also has the distinction of being the first Bulgarian born player to suit up in the NHL, has gone 6-3-0 with a .925 save percentage and 2.61 GAA since the 10th of November. He has an excellent track record against Toronto, On February 10th of 2019, Georgiev made a career-high 55 saves in a 4–1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, becoming the goaltender with second-most saves in a game in Rangers’ history, while also setting a record for most saves in regulation. Proving that was not a one time fluke, Georgiev followed that up with a solid 44-save outing on March 23, which resulted in a 2-1 overtime victory.

Lundqvist Struggles

Since November 10, Lundqvist has gone 3-4-3 with a .903 save percentage and 3.19 GAA. He played well last Saturday in Anaheim, but a crucial mistake at the end of the game led to the tying goal, a game in which the Rangers eventually lost in a shootout. While the 37-year-old may need rest on occasion, he is not correctly used to a lot of time on the bench. Excluding the 2012-13 lockout and 2014-15 when he missed significant time with an injury, Lundqvist averaged 67.25 starts per season over a 10-year period, which equates to more than 80% of the Rangers’ games. He started 52 games last year and has been the starter for 18 of the 33 games so far this season. For someone who has thrived on a heavy workload, Lundqvist may have to get used to reduced time in the net.

Waiting in the Wings

At their AHL affiliate in New Hartford, Igor Shesterkin is playing like he is worthy of manning the nets in the NHL. So far this season, Shesterkind has posted a 2.14 GAA with a .926 Save Percentage. Concerns about the transition from Europe to NHL style play and rinks have been put to rest.

All in all, it is not exactly a bad situation to have. Together, Lundqvist and Georgiev rate as the fourth-best goalie tandem in the NHL. But it is always challenging to deal with an aging star who has been the face of the franchise for so many years. So far, Coach David Quinn has been handling it well, and Ranger fans can only hope that this continues for the foreseeable future.