Alex Georgiev doesn’t like to think about any rust that might develop during long stretches when the Rangers backup goalie doesn’t play a game. But that mentality has served him well as he prepared to get his second start of the season Thursday night in Newark.
With the Rangers strange schedule to start the season, they have played just three games up to this point. Georgiev got his lone start at Ottawa on Oct. 5, allowing one goal on 32 shots during a 4-1 win. The other two games have gone to Henrik Lundqvist, who is set to get the nod for the second leg of this back-to-back, Friday night at Washington.
“I try not to think about the difficulties [of a break], because for a goalie, that happens sometimes,” Georgiev said after Wednesday’s practice in Tarrytown. “Sometimes you don’t play for five days [and] you just have to work with a little more game-like mentality in practice.”
The goal from the start of the season is to limit playing time for the 37-year-old Lundqvist, who has faded in the second half each of the past two seasons, coinciding with the club selling off veteran pieces as part of its rebuilding process. Georgiev, 23, then figures to get more than the 30 starts he got last season, his first full year in the NHL.
“I don’t think about it too much,” Georgiev said. “As a goalie, it’s pretty common to have a five-day break between games. So I know what it is. It doesn’t feel that different.”
Hard-edged winger Brendan Lemieux is a possibility to be scratched, part of the decision coming to the fact that he battled the flu earlier in the week. The other part was left ambiguous by coach David Quinn.
“Just in general, coaching decisions,” Quinn said.
Lemieux had been promoted to the third line for Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Oilers, but after missing practice on Sunday then the team having off on Monday, he has only rotated in with the fourth line during practices on Tuesday and Wednesday.
With Lemieux as an extra, Micheal Haley has slotted into the fourth line, with Lias Andersson and Greg McKegg. Haley was scratched for the first three games this season, having received a two-way contact following his professional tryout during training camp.
Brendan Smith practiced again as the third-line winger, with Ryan Strome and Jesper Fast, while Brett Howden stayed as the new second-line pivot between Chris Kreider and Kaapo Kakko.
The defensive pairs also remained the same, with Libor Hajek-Jacob Trouba and Brady Skjei-Adam Fox.