Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist: Won't dress Thursday

Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist: Won't dress Thursday

Lundqvist (back) won’t be in the lineup for Thursday’s game against the Flyers, Colin Stephenson of Newsday reports.

Lundqvist was a little shaken up when two players collided with him late in the third period of Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets, but he was able to collect himself and finish the game. Nonetheless, with the Rangers all but eliminated from playoff contention, there’s no reason for coach Alain Vigneault to have a banged-up Lundqvist dress for Thursday’s clash with Philadelphia. With Hank unavailable, Alexandar Georgiev will get the start against the Flyers, with Ondrej Pavelec (knee) slotting in as his backup.

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Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist: Makes 26 saves in Tuesday's loss

Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist: Makes 26 saves in Tuesday's loss

Lundqvist stopped 26 of 30 shots in Tuesday’s 5-3 loss to the Blue Jackets.

Columbus’ offense has been steamrolling everyone in its path during the team’s current nine-game winning streak, and Lundqvist wasn’t able to slow it down after getting the prior three games off to try and clear his head. The veteran netminder has won only two of his last 11 decisions, posting a weak .899 save percentage over that stretch, and with the Rangers are all but eliminated from the playoffs, they have little incentive to give Lundqvist his usual workload over the final weeks of the season.

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Kreider isn't taking anything Rangers do for granted

Kreider isn't taking anything Rangers do for granted

ST. LOUIS – Watching Chris Kreider on the ice lately, it’s easy to forget that it’s been less than three months since his arm swelled up because of a blood clot on Dec. 27. His trademark speed has been in full force since he returned on Feb. 23 against the Wild, less than seven weeks after he underwent a rib resection, a malformed rib he had his whole life causing the clot, signs of which included trouble breathing and coughing up blood.

Kreider is smiling a lot these days. He’s grateful for his health, appreciative for the chance to play hockey again, and his return not just to play but play with zip and at a level meeting pre-health-scare expectations is remarkable and a bright spot in a lost Rangers season.

“I’m having a ton of fun,” Kreider said Saturday after earning two more assists in the Rangers’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Blues. “This is free hockey. Some of the words that are thrown around, you never know. You never know if you’re gonna play this game again.”

That is why he’s trying to enjoy the ride and not take anything for granted. When he was named the first star Wednesday night in the Rangers’ comeback victory Wednesday against the Penguins after recording three points in the third period and another in overtime, Kreider came back out onto the ice and raised his arms to encourage the crowd to get even louder, relishing the moment.

This may be “free hockey” for Kreider but his work ethic to return to 100 percent and find his top level has stood out to Alain Vigneault

“For me, Kreids has always been a real pro in the sense that, he’s got to be one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached as far as his physical preparation,” Vigneault said. “He works so hard, does so much – sometimes you even wonder if he’s doing a little too much off the ice, and even on the ice.”

Kreider’s second assist Saturday was a no-look backhand pass through the crease to set up Mika Zibanejad’s power-play goal in the second period. Kreider, who had a career-high four points on Wednesday, has 10 points in 11 games since returning from the clot, and he only played about two minutes against Tampa Bay on March 8 after leaving for precautionary reasons following head contact.

In the wake of the Rangers' moves at the trade deadline, Chris Kreider has been thrust into a bigger leadership role.

In the wake of the Rangers’ moves at the trade deadline, Chris Kreider has been thrust into a bigger leadership role.

(Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images)

His recent performances are reminders of how good the 26-year-old Kreider can be when he’s in form, a tantalizing talent who has all the physical tools to be an All-Star. Getting him to be that player more consistently has been a goal of Vigneault’s.

“The way he played (Wednesday,) that was a real powerful game,” Vigneault said. “We’re hoping that he’ll bring a little more consistency, and that’s one of the areas he’s been working on.”

In the wake of the Rangers’ moves at the trade deadline, Kreider has been thrust into a bigger leadership role, Vigneault believing Kreider’s work ethic sets a great example for his teammates. Kreider is now the fourth-most tenured player on the team.

“That’s weird, right? Strange,” Kreider says. “From a young guy, two months later and I’m the old guy. Things can change fast, I guess.”

Kreider knows that better than anyone after his health scare. He’s happy to play the game he loves, now more than ever.

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Rebuilding Rangers want to 'find out about' goalie Georgiev

Rebuilding Rangers want to 'find out about' goalie Georgiev

ST. LOUIS — Given the circumstances, starting Alexandar Georgiev in goal for the third straight game Saturday against the Blues is a wise move as Alain Vigneault says he wants to “find out about this young goaltender.”

Even while allowing a couple of soft goals, the 22-year-old Bulgarian-Russian has shown promise during his six NHL appearances since coming up last month when backup Ondrej Pavelec went down with an MCL sprain, from which he’s still recovering.

Georgiev, an undrafted free agent signed last July after impressing during development camp, has a .929 save percentage across five starts and a relief appearance, and he’s won each of his last three starts.

The rebuilding Rangers (32-32-7) were nine points out of the playoffs entering Friday with 11 games remaining. Vigneault already leaned heavily on Henrik Lundqvist when the Blueshirts were scratching and clawing to try to remain playoff relevant. Now it makes sense to get Georgiev enough playing time down the stretch to see if he can handle the full-time No. 2 duties next season.

Rangers fan cries after getting stick from Pavel Buchnevich

“I don’t expect to play 82 games,” Lundqvist, who started 50 of the Rangers’ first 60 games, said earlier this week. “I played a lot of games this year. I don’t expect to play every night. Right now (Georgiev is) getting some games and I’m happy for him. He’s starting his career here and he works hard. That’s where it starts. You earn it by working hard and having a good mindset going into this. Just trying to support him.”

Georgiev isn’t quite the heir to Lundqvist’s throne the way fellow Russian prospect Igor Shesterkin is hoped to be down the road, but if he emerges as a steady NHL goaltender it would strengthen the Rangers’ depth.

Alexandar Georgiev

Alexandar Georgiev

(Kathy Willens/AP)

After a rough start with AHL Hartford, Georgiev went 8-0-1 with a 1.76 goals against average, .948 save percentage and two shutouts in his last nine starts with the Wolf Pack before his call-up.

“He’s a calm kid,” Lundqvist said. “Technically he’s very good. These kids coming up now, they’ve grown up with the technique. they’ve known it from the age of 8, probably. For me it was different; I had to learn a lot of these things when I was 19, 20 years old. It’s different, but you can see the technique is very good and fast. Fast on his feet, works hard.”

Zuccarello, Rangers top Hagelin, Brassard and Pens in OT

Nothing seems to faze Georgiev. In a tie game with 10.7 seconds left Wednesday against Pittsburgh he showed veteran-like patience against Hart Trophy candidate Evgeni Malkin to stop him on a penalty shot.

He’s also made at least 30 saves in each of his first five career starts, making him the first goaltender in franchise history to do so since shots began being tracked in 1955-56, per the Elias Sports Bureau. Vigneault and several teammates have described Georgiev as a “battler,” mentally prepared for this new challenge.

“I try to keep the same emotions and preparation,” Georgiev said. “I would say I feel a bit more confident, but pretty much the same guy, same goalie, just playing my game.”

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Rangers fan cries after getting stick from Pavel Buchnevich

Rangers fan cries after getting stick from Pavel Buchnevich

The Rangers made one of their fans cry for a good reason Wednesday night.

A young fan named Benjamin broke into tears after he was handed a stick by his favorite player, Pavel Buchnevich, during the team’s warm-up skate before playing the Penguins.

Benjamin, who was wearing a KHL Buchnevich jersey, waved to the Rangers winger to get his attention. Buchnevich saw the fan, recognized the jersey and then tossed a stick over the boards to give the boy a souvenir.

Pavel Buchnevich brought a young fan to tears when he gave him a stick during the Rangers pregame skate Wednesday night.

Pavel Buchnevich brought a young fan to tears when he gave him a stick during the Rangers pregame skate Wednesday night.

(@NYRangers via Twitter)

When he caught the stick, the fan slapped the boards in joy and the two gave each other a high five through the glass. The young boy’s emotions got so high in the moment that he couldn’t help but cry.

Buchnevich then skated back over to pose for a picture with the Rangers fan.

The Rangers Twitter account also shared a photo of the two apparently getting to meet in person.

Both were equally happy after the game, following the Rangers’ 4-3 overtime win against the Penguins.

Buchnevich has been with the Rangers since being drafted in the third round of the 2013 NHL draft.

After playing in the KHL for the 2015-2016 season, Buchnevich signed a three-year entry level contract with the team and made the lineup for the 2016-2017 season.

Buchnevich has played in 63 games for the Rangers this season, registering 14 goals and 26 assists so far.

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Rangers' Mika Zibanejad: Scores twice in Wednesday's OT win

Rangers' Mika Zibanejad: Scores twice in Wednesday's OT win

Zibanejad scored two goals, including the overtime winner, in Wednesday’s 4-3 victory over the Penguins.

His first goal of the night, a power-play tally late in the third period, was the one that sent the game into extra time, and Zibanejad also chipped in nine shots, two PIM, one blocked shot and a plus-2 rating. The 24-year-old now has a career-high 22 goals on the season and an even 100 in the NHL, and he should continue seeing big minutes as the Rangers close out a disappointing campaign.

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