Welcome to New York Rangers Weekly! The Rangers continued their winning ways this past week in three home games. They defeated the rival Philadelphia Flyers, 4-1, last Wednesday, the San Jose Sharks, 1-0, this past Friday and the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2, on Saturday evening. The Rangers endured two tight games against the Sharks and Blackhawks and came out on top, which is the sign of a good team as they are maintaining leads in close games. Let’s take a look at some headlines from last week’s three games.
Shesterkin Placed on IR After Injury Against Sharks
During the game against the Sharks, goaltender Igor Shesterkin sustained a lower-body injury during the third period. The Rangers’ starting netminder was unable to get up after he sprawled to make a save. He was unable to put any weight on his right leg as he was helped off the ice and headed toward the locker room.
Shesterkin was placed on injured reserve (IR) on Saturday and goaltender Adam Huska was called up from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) to backup Alexandar Georgiev. Head coach Gerard Gallant said on Saturday that the Rangers’ starting netminder should be recovered from his ailment in a week. The Moscow, Russia native has a 13-3-2 record in 18 games played and 17 starts. His goals-against average (GAA) is 2.05 and his save percentage (SV%) is .937. The play of the 25-year-old is one of the reasons for the Blueshirts’ exceptional record this season.
Georgiev Steps up in Starter’s Role
Georgiev, who struggled through the first two months of 2021-22, has quieted his doubters through his play against the Sharks in relief of Shesterkin and again versus the Blackhawks. He made nine saves on nine shots in a tight 1-0 game on Friday night to secure the victory for the Rangers. The team’s defensive play was more aggressive once the Rangers’ backup was called in but he made the tough saves when he needed to.
Against the Blackhawks, Georgiev saw play in a game and made his first start in net since being pulled during the Rangers’ victory against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 21. He proved to be up to the task once again of handling goaltending duties with Shesterkin out. The two goals the Blackhawks managed to get past the Rangers’ backup were reviewed by the officials before being confirmed.
He withstood continuous pressure from the Blackhawks forwards throughout the game, including chances from Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, the two goal scorers for the opposition. Georgiev got luck from the goal posts on more than occasion but stymied the Blackhawks as he had 25 saves on 27 shots. He had a .926 SV% in the win on Saturday night and looks to be building momentum and confidence going forward as the starter this week for the Rangers.
Panarin Has His Best Game of the Season Against Former Team
Forward Artemi Panarin has been a consistent source of production through the season even though he is not scoring as many goals as he may be used to. He has a high number of assists this season (19), which is second on the Rangers. Against the Blackhawks, he created many of the team’s scoring opportunities and he finished with a stat line of 1-2-3. He had the game-winning goal in Saturday’s win as well.
He and defenseman Adam Fox made amazing passes to one another in order to find forward Ryan Strome with a wide open net to score a goal to give the Rangers a 2-1 lead during the second period. Joe Micheletti, the color commentator for Rangers games on MSG Network, was impressed by Panarin early on during Saturday night’s victory as he mentioned his play frequently throughout the game. While Panarin can demonstrate his skills with the puck too much looking to create the perfect play, his agility was on full display last night and the team benefited from it.
Rangers Are Winners of Six Straight Games, Eight Straight at Home
The Rangers have quite a record at 16-4-3 which is good for 35 points and second place in the Metropolitan Division behind the Washington Capitals, who have 36 points. The Blueshirts, who had two games postponed during November due to COVID-19 outbreaks among the opponents, the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders, have maintained their focus and play despite extra days between games. The Rangers have battled together collectively as a team in order to win the tight games. After Georgiev was pulled for Shesterkin during the Sabres game two weeks ago, the team held on to win a one-goal game, 5-4.
The Rangers have been impressive in one-goal games — there are quite a few this season in which they emerged as victors. The last two home games, against the Sharks and Blackhawks, are a prime example of their ability to hold on and bear down defensively against their opponents. For the season so far, the team has an 8-1-1 record in front of their home crowd.
The Rangers will look to continue their momentum heading to the United Center in Chicago, Illinois, for a rematch against the Blackhawks on Tuesday evening. They then return to Madison Square Garden for a home game against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday for the second of back-to-back games. The Rangers finish out the week by visiting the Buffalo Sabres at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York.