GREENBURGH, N.Y. – Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev might be the one guy in the NHL who never minds when the team tells him it is sending him down to the minor leagues.
“The general manager [Jeff Gorton] told me that I need a lot of playing time, as much as possible, so if there is a chance to get games at Hartford, then it’s going to happen,’’ Georgiev said Monday, after his first practice with the Rangers since he was recalled from Hartford Sunday night. “I’m really glad that this is happening. I want to play as many games as possible.’’
Georgiev, the backup to Henrik Lundqvist this season, has been sent to AHL Hartford three times this season, the most recent being on Dec. 3, when the Rangers began a 14-day period in which they played just four games. With Lundqvist clearly able to play all four games in the span, Georgiev went to Hartford and played five games in 10 days for the Wolf Pack.
“It was great to get that kind of workload and just get into the rhythm,’’ Georgiev said. “It’s a bit easier to get into the game when you play every few days.’’
And though Georgiev lost all five games, allowing 17 goals on 144 shots (an .882 save percentage) Rangers coach David Quinn said the 22-year-old “got his groove back’’ while in the AHL, and promised that the goaltender will play “soon’’ for the Rangers. Soon, as in perhaps Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks, who visit the Garden at 7 p.m.
Lundqvist, who made 37 saves in stealing a point for the Rangers in their 4-3 overtime loss Sunday to the Vegas Golden Knights, did not practice Monday. The team said he was given a “maintenance day.’’
Georgiev, who is 4-4-0, with a 3.37 goals against average and an .899 save percentage in eight games with the Rangers this season, will be facing a significant challenge against the Ducks, whom the Rangers beat in a shootout, 3-2, back on Nov. 1 in California. The Ducks were 5-6-3 after that game. They are 18-11-5 now.
Quinn said he hadn’t been following the Ducks, and the way the Rangers have been playing (three straight losses and 2-5-3 in their last 10 games) he’s been focusing on trying to fix his own team’s shortcomings, rather than focusing on the opposition.
“We’ve got our own problems to solve,’’ Quinn said.
Hayes still out
Forward Kevin Hayes, who crashed heavily into the end boards Friday in the 4-3 overtime loss to Arizona but played and had three assists Sunday against Vegas, did not practice . . . Quinn said D Brendan Smith, who has been scratched in three of the last four games, will return to the lineup “soon.’’ Smith was paired on D with Adam McQuaid at Monday’s practice.