Coming off perhaps his best game of the season, it was back to the bench for Igor Shesterkin on Saturday night when the Rangers hosted the Penguins.
Instead of riding Shesterkin as the hot hand, coach David Quinn was set to turn to Alexandar Georgiev on Saturday as he revealed his plan is to play the goalies every other game, at least in the short term.
“Our goaltending, we got two really good ones,” Quinn said before Saturday’s game at the Garden. “Obviously the circumstances have changed here since last year, without having Hank [Henrik Lundqvist] here. I just thought for the short term, we’re going to go every other day with these guys for a while and see how it goes, regardless of how they play. Just give them a little bit clearer picture and maybe a little more comfort in what the schedule is and who’s going to play. I don’t know how long we’re going to do it, but that’s going to be the approach in the short term.”
Through the Rangers’ first seven games of the season, Shesterkin had gotten four starts and Georgiev three, with each getting back-to-back starts once. Shesterkin, long considered to be the heir to Lundqvist, was 1-2-1 with a 2.73 goals against average and .894 save percentage. He stopped 23 of 25 shots in Thursday’s win over the Sabres. Georgiev, before Saturday’s start, was 1-2-0 with a 2.66 GAA and .896 save percentage.
With the shortened season just 56 games long, Quinn was asked how long he could go splitting time with the goalies before leaning on one.
“It’s always nice to have one you can ride, for sure. That’s the end game,” Quinn said. “But these are different circumstances for both these guys. I think in the short term, it gives us a chance to maybe solidify our goaltending situation going every other day with these guys.”
The Rangers’ new power-play groups were set to remain the same for a second straight game Saturday, with defensemen Adam Fox and Tony DeAngelo skating on the first unit alongside Mika Zibanejad, Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich. The new second unit of Jacob Trouba, Chris Kreider, Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko and Ryan Strome only got a brief look together in Thursday’s win, but Quinn said that would change Saturday.
“I think both units give you a little bit of a different look,” Quinn said. “It’s a small sample size, but we just think both units, we kind of needed to shake things up.”
Defenseman Jack Johnson (groin strain) missed his second straight game, with Brendan Smith continuing to fill his spot next to DeAngelo.