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Alexandar Georgiev yearns for some time in Rangers' goal

Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev waits for play to

Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev waits for play to start during the second period of an NHL game against the Senators in Ottawa on Oct. 23, 2021.  Credit: AP/Sean Kilpatrick

GREENBURGH, N.Y. — What’s it like to be the backup of one of the hottest goalies in the NHL?

"It’s different," said Alexandar Georgiev, who has been limited behind Igor Shesterkin so far this season. "Less playing time. Not much fun for sure."

The inspired play of Shesterkin is the No. 1 reason the Ranger have started the season 7-3-3. While it’s great to have a hot goalie, the team is going to need Georgiev to step up in relief as they open a brutal stretch in Columbus Saturday where they play six games in nine days.

Georgiev has appeared in just three of the Rangers first 13 games and has a 1-1-1 record and a 4.26 goals-against average. It seems most likely that the team will use him to spell Shesterkin in this weekend’s back-to-back as they follow the game in Columbus with a game Sunday against the Devils.

Georgiev, 25, spent the last four seasons as the backup to Henrik Lundqvist. Mentally, however, it’s got to be one thing to backup an aging Hall of Famer and quite another to play sparingly behind someone who is only a few months older than you.

Georgiev was asked after practice Friday how he was handling a backseat.

"Just focus on my game," he said. "Still come to the rink. You are here with the guys trying to improve."

Georgiev appears to yet have earned the trust of new Rangers coach Gerard Gallant as his games have either been against elite teams like the Washington and Edmonton or far-from-elite teams like Ottawa.

Georgiev is clearly looking forward to getting some game time so he can work on his play.

"I need to find my game and get back on track," Georgiev said. "The team has been playing really good. Luckily, we got some points with me not on the top of my game. I’m just trying to find that and get back to my game and the way I can play."

If the Rangers really want to get something going here they are going to have to have a dependable backup for Shesterkin, who has a 6-2-2 record along with a 93.1 percent save percentage.

Shesterkin is currently on pace to play 63 games this season, which is considered a pretty heavy workload in this day and age where a player’s time is more managed.

Said Georgiev: "Right now, I just want to focus on the next game that’s for me and get a W for the guys. I just want to get the feel for the game a little more. No excuses, for sure. I just have to take one game at a time."

Notes & Quotes: Filip Chytil skated for a half hour before the team took the ice, but did not participate in practice. Gallant did not completely rule out Chytil for Saturday’s game in Columbus, but it doesn’t sound like he will play. The third line center suffered an upper body injury in last Saturday’s game in Calgary when he collided with teammate Sammy Blais early in the first period.

New York Sports