Head coach Peter Laviolette said it was always the plan for Jonathan Quick to start in the Rangers’ first game back from the All-Star break against the Avalanche.
This way, Igor Shesterkin can get some work in with director of goaltending Benoit Allaire, after spending part of the eight-day break in game action in Toronto participating in the All-Star festivities.
For his former teammate and Avalanche counterpart Alexandar Georgiev, however, there was no such plan to ease him back in.
He, too, was honored this past weekend as an All-Star for the first time in his seven-year NHL career.
The Rangers had the luxury of turning to Quick, who has exceeded his role as the backup with a fifth-ranked goals-against average (2.43) and a ninth-ranked save percentage (.915) through his first 17 appearances this season.
Colorado, on the other hand, needed to go right back to its No. 1 goalie for a game against a team that is also ranked No. 1 in its division.
A starting goalie is largely all Georgiev has been for the Avs since the Rangers traded his negotiating rights to Colorado in July 2022, after the undrafted netminder served as a backup for his entire New York tenure.
“That was really tough,” Georgiev told The Post from the podium he shared with his fellow All-Star teammate Cale Makar last week. “You kind of have one vision of yourself in your mind, and then reality hits, and you’re not there at all. I think that affected my game, as well, and put me in an even worse position than maybe I really had there.
“I would say having an opportunity with the Avalanche was huge. I felt like, last couple seasons, I did not get it. The playing field was kind of stacked against me. At the same time, they didn’t want to play me. It was not a pleasant situation, for sure. I’m excited that I got the chance on a different club eventually.”
So here Georgiev is two years removed from his first NHL team and his first NHL role.
Not only did he earn the same honor from the NHL as Shesterkin this season, but the 27-year-old owns the same save percentage (.899) and has appeared in more games (42 versus 32) than the goalie he formerly played behind”
Georgiev’s belief in himself never wavered, which landed him a starting job with a contending club in the West.
Maybe it was just supposed to happen this way. His parts of five seasons with the Rangers ultimately got him to where he is today.
“I think working with Benny was a big step in my career,” Georgiev said, referencing Allaire. “I think there has to be a good fit with a goalie coach and his vision for the game and the goalie. It’s a big credit to him, I think he tries to find a way for every goalie to find that good fit and has a good vision for the system that you play.
“That’s been having a lot of success and I tried to listen when I was there. That was a big part of my success. Now, I took the next step with [Jussi Parkkila] my goalie coach in Colorado.”