New York Rangers: Alexandar Georgiev’s monster fifty-five save effort starts to beg the question on Lundqvist’s role

New York Rangers. Alexandar Georgiev (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New York Rangers. Alexandar Georgiev (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

After the New York Rangers rookie goaltender, Alexandar Georgiev swallowed the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 55 save 4-1 victory, we begin to wonder just how much more we will be seeing from both him and his mentor down the road.

Sunday night’s historic performance by Alexandar Georgiev has raised a lot of talk on both himself and the future of the New York Rangers.

To be honest, we’ve been pretty spoiled as New York Rangers fans for the past 13 years.

No matter what the woes ever were in Manhattan, there has always been one piece of this franchise that management could always spare some grey hairs on.

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Say what you will about what the Rangers have or have not accomplished over time. Debate all you want about what the team needs and what it will take, but just know this: we have had the privilege of one of the greatest players to ever lace on the leather anchor this franchise for over a decade, and we still have him.

Henrik Lundqvist will go down in history as one of the all-time greats, cup or no cup.

Some franchises can never get it right between the pipes. No matter how much money they spend, talent they draft or players they trade, goaltending just always seems to be the chink in the armor.

But on 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York, New York, it has been the greatest weapon against the NHL.

I am emphatic about this because as we wind down towards the trade deadline, more pieces of the past will vanish, another step towards a new life will be taken, and I reflect on the great hockey we have been granted at the hands of Lundqvist through so many years.

Aside from the emotion and nostalgia of it all, I am ardent because it is clear that this could possibly be the beginning of a new chapter for Lundqvist. A chapter where he no longer plays the role we are so familiar with.

On Sunday, Lundqvist’s 23-year-old understudy, Alexandar Georgiev delivered one of the best goaltending performances ever performed on Garden ice.

He stopped 55 of 56 shots against one of the elite offenses of the NHL in Toronto. Now this wasn’t just steering pucks aside, this was robbing world-class scorers on the doorstep left and right.

It was an absolute clinic on Georgiev and boy did he flash some swagger when given the opportunity.

Georgiev was coming off another impressive performance four days earlier, where he posted 27 saves on 30 shots for a dramatic seven-round shootout win against the Bruins.

Despite these recent developments, both Georgiev and Lundqvist have had shaky seasons if you are judging them on paper.

Lundqvist stands with a 2.99 GAA, currently his career-worst, and the rookie Georgiev sits at 3.11.

Since this is a rebuilding (I’ve used and heard this word so much I want to throw up at this point) season, both of these guys can kind of get a pass since the defensive unit in front of them has been abysmal.

Now with that being said, I don’t mean to jump to conclusions just yet. Georgiev still has a long way to go before indefinitely edging out Lundqvist, but he certainly has earned the right to prove himself some more, which we are going to see down the stretch here.

For all we know he was just pumped it was his birthday and killed the lights for it. Maybe there’s more where it came from, we’ll have to see.

We are within two weeks of part two of the New York Ranger fire sale and once that all commences and the dust settles, it can only go down hill from here until spring.

There would be no reason to over work a 37-year-old Lundqvist given the state that this roster is about to be in. I think that this will be almost a full-on time split to kill off the season with Lundqvist still holding the title as No. 1.

As I said though, it does mark the beginning of Hank’s final chapter as his role may possibly start to evolve from here. That end could last both his remaining contract seasons after this one, or perhaps a bit longer, maybe a bit shorter. Who knows.

A young talent is behind them that the Rangers are only behooved to see more from, while there is also promising goaltending talent in the pipeline.

No matter how he is used, Lundqvist will still have some more games to steal inside him. With the NHL being as competitive as it is, I wouldn’t even write off Lundqvist’s playoff career as a Ranger being over.

We are talking about one of the most competitive athletes in all of professional sports. He may not have six rings, but if there is a Tom Brady in hockey (in terms of compete level and defying age), it’s Lundqvist.

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We just have to remember that given what is there in front of him, behind him and his age, we must keep our expectations in check. Everything else is extra.