When Alexandar Georgiev stepped into the NHL, he did so as the backup to one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time.
Now, Georgiev is the one shining in his first real chance as a starting goaltender in the NHL. And his former goaltending partner is a believer.
During Wednesday night’s telecast of the Colorado Avalanche game against the Minnesota Wild, Henrik Lundqvist was one of the intermission analysts for TNT. When Lundqvist was asked by the panel if Georgiev has what it takes to lead a team to a Stanley Cup, he didn’t hesitate with his answer.
He elaborated a little further on Georgiev’s ability to be a starting goaltender.
“He has the mindset for it and he’s so hungry to do it,” Lundqvist said on national television.
On Friday afternoon, I told Georgiev that Lundqvist had a lot of nice things to say about him on television.
He couldn’t help but smile.
“That’s awesome,” he said.
The two worked together with the New York Rangers starting in 2017 all the way up until Lundqvist left in 2020. To this day, they still have a good relationship.
“He’s an awesome guy,” Georgiev said of Lundqvist. “I loved working with him. I got to catch up a bit this season as well with him. He’s doing great, enjoying the TV time. He’s got the looks for it, and he’s really smart. He knows so much about hockey. It was a pleasure working with him and now he’s found really fun jobs for himself.”
Still, Lundqvist making the transition to television wasn’t exactly what he was expecting.
“Everyone kind of expected he would be with the Rangers organization in some kind of capacity,” Georgiev said. “But then he got this opportunity on the TV. It’s very fitting, I guess.”
On the ice, Georgiev was coming off playing on back to back nights, with travel involved. He’s done it before this year, and there’s a good chance he’ll do it again. Pavel Francouz will miss around three weeks, and the team plays two more sets of back to backs soon.
That doesn’t bother him much, mostly because he already had to deal with a much tougher scenario this season.
“I felt like after playing back to back in Finland, where we had to switch time zones for a week, nine hour difference with Denver.” he said. “It felt like this wouldn’t be more challenging.”
It certainly didn’t look like it on the ice. While a lot of the team looked tired against the Wild, Georgiev did not. He stopped 41 of the 43 shots he faced, and the Avalanche held on for a big win. Just 24 hours earlier, he stopped 32 of the 35 shots he faced in a shootout loss to the Lightning. Getting a good nights sleep and mentally resetting were huge for him.
“I felt maybe even better the second game than the first one,” he said.
It’s only the middle of February, and Georgiev has already passed his career high in terms of games played in a year. I asked him if he did anything drastically differently in the summer to prepare, knowing he had a chance to be “the man” in net.
“Not really,” he told CHN. “In terms of summer preparation, I always prepared to play a lot, to be in really good shape.”
He did mention one small difference, though.
“This summer was a bit different,” Georgiev said. “Last two summers, I was going a lot on the ice, but it was kind of a lot of players ice, where maybe it wasn’t the most beneficial for me in the summer. This time, I felt like I was doing a lot more goalie stuff. Goalie specific things. Not too many shots, but just working on technique. Otherwise, pretty much the same thing as usual.”
It appears to have paid off. The 27 year old has been a revelation in net for the Avalanche, and he’s garnered high praise from teammates, coaches, and pundits around the league.
Still, hearing that Lundqvist has his back seemed extra special to him.
“I haven’t heard what he said, but it’s a privilege,” Georgiev said. “He’s one of the top grades in the game. It’s very special that he thinks highly of me.”