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Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev expects an improved season, doesn't see himself as a backup

Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev (40) reacts after a

Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev (40) reacts after a goal by Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck (not pictured) during the second period of an NHL preseason game at Madison Square Garden on Sunday, Sep 26, 2021. Credit: Brad Penner

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — Alexandar Georgiev would rather not talk about last season, thank you very much. Only 56 games, no playoffs for the Rangers and personally his numbers weren’t where he expects them to be.

"Yeah, I kind of don’t want to go back to last season,’’ Georgiev said Friday as the Rangers prepared for their final preseason game Saturday against the Islanders in Bridgeport. "That was tough and not fun.’’

Instead, Georgiev would prefer to focus on the upcoming season, which will begin Wednesday in Washington against the Capitals. Georgiev sees 2021-22 as "a new opportunity’’ for himself and the team.

"I want to make the step forward,’’ he said. "It’s super, super fun to be back to a full season, with a lot of fans.’’

Georgiev is expected to play the entire game Saturday against the Islanders. In his first two appearances of the preseason, he allowed three goals in each game, six goals allowed on 40 shots over 72:44. For his final preseason game, he said wants to "just have a really good game. I’m going to approach it as a [regular] season game, for sure. Make a good last game before the season starts.’’

Georgiev, 25, struggled at times last season. He was 8-7-2 in 19 games, with a career best 2.71 goals-against average and a career-worst .905 save percentage. (His career save percentage is .912.)

Despite the perception that Igor Shesterkin is the Rangers’ No. 1 goaltender, Georgiev said he doesn’t view it that way. He said his approach is to work hard and take things on a day-to-day basis.

"I think you [media] guys try to put too much meaning into 1-2,’’ he said. "I don’t think in terms of that. I feel like we definitely have two real good goalies, and I want to do as much as possible… so I’m focused on myself and let the coaches decide what’s best for the team.’’

Reaves said to be doing well

Coach Gerard Gallant said rugged forward Ryan Reaves, who left Wednesday’s preseason game with what looked like a bad knee injury, is doing well and remains out on a day-to-day basis. Asked if Reaves would be ready for Wednesday’s opener, Gallant said he is "close.’’

"I think it’s going to be close,’’ said Gallant. "When he left the game, I said no, but the last couple of days, it’s going in the right direction. So I can’t really say, but I think it’s going to be real close.’’

Key players may not play

Gallant said while he wants his team to "play well and work hard and win the hockey game,’’ in the final preseason game, "you’re hoping for good health.’’ For that reason, Gallant said a few key players might not play Saturday. In practice Friday, with Reaves not participating, there were 14 forwards, broken up into two three-man lines and two four-man lines. Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome and Kaapo Kakko worked with Barclay Goodrow in their group, and Dryden Hunt, Kevin Rooney and Morgan Barron worked with Chris Kreider in their group. Mika Zibanejad worked with Alexis Lafreniere and Vitali Kravtsov, while Filip Chytil worked between Sammy Blais and Julien Gauthier.

New York Sports