Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev is scheduled to start Wednesday’s home game for the Rangers against the Boston Bruins, his first action since the reported fight he had with defenseman Tony DeAngelo that led to DeAngelo’s banishment from the team.
Rangers coach David Quinn said Tuesday the decision was not connected in any way with the fact that the Rangers (4-5-2) lost Monday night to the Islanders, with Igor Shesterkin in goal.
"It was predetermined,’’ Quinn said. "Alex was going to play regardless of what happened with Shesty [Shesterkin] last night, whether we won or lost. Georgie's looked good [in practice]. He looks like he's dialed in, ready to go, and he's anxious to get back in there. It's been a little while, so I know he's looking forward to getting back in the net, and we're looking forward to having him in the net.’’
The start, against the East Division-leading Bruins (8-1-2) will come on Georgiev’s 25th birthday. The last time Georgiev started a game on his birthday was two years ago, when he made a career-high 55 saves in a 4-1 win at the Garden over the Toronto Maple Leafs on the day he turned 23.
It has been a difficult start to the season for Georgiev. After posting a shutout in his first start — the 5-0 win over the Islanders in the second game of the season — things have not gone well for him. He started the next game against the Devils but was pulled after allowing four goals in two periods. On the season, he is 1-2-1, with a goals-against average of 3.27, and a save percentage of .886.
His last appearance came Jan. 30 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers lost that night, 5-4 in overtime, and after the game, Georgiev reportedly punched DeAngelo in the runway leading to the locker room because the defenseman supposedly kept riding him about allowing Sidney Crosby’s overtime winner. DeAngelo, who had been on thin ice with the Rangers due to several on- and off-ice transgressions prior to that, was placed on waivers the next day.
Georgiev spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since the incident. He said what happened between himself and DeAngelo was "in the heat of the moment,’’ but declined to give details.
"I don't want to elaborate on what happened,’’ he said. "I just want to keep it in the past tense. Emotions happened. That's all I can say. I wish Tony the best moving forward.’’
Before that fateful Pittsburgh game, Quinn had announced he would be alternating his goaltenders for a while. But after Shesterkin beat the Penguins, 3-1 in the next game, Quinn opted to start him in each of the next two games. On Tuesday, the coach said the plan to alternate goalies is over.
"It’s all based on how they play right now,’’ he said. "As I said when we decided to [alternate], I didn't know how long it was going to happen. I didn't anticipate it'd be only for two games, but some things happened unexpectedly, and you kind of adapt to it.
"We have faith in both these guys,’’ he said. "And if Georgie plays well, he'll play more often.’’