Rangers head coach David Quinn opted to double-shift defensemen Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren in the back-to-back set against the Flyers on Thursday and Friday, in order to avoid putting Libor Hajek and Zac Jones together on the ice at the same time.
And with Jacob Trouba out for the foreseeable future for what is assumed to be a concussion, Quinn said that will continue to be the approach with the defensive core.
The strategy was more effective in the Rangers’ 4-1 win on Friday than it was in Thursday’s loss, when 10 of their 12 penalty minutes were served by defensemen.
“It was easier to manage the D tonight because we didn’t take as many penalties,” Quinn said Friday. “Obviously, Foxy and Lindy have had a hell of a year. They’ve been our best pair. In key situations you’ll see them together under these circumstances. Obviously, with Trouba being day-to-day, you might see this approach to our D-core.”
It’s understandable why Quinn wouldn’t want to deploy Hajek and Jones together, considering Thursday was both Jones’ NHL debut and Hajek’s first game back in the lineup after his play had taken a dip.
Asked ahead of Friday’s rematch with the Flyers at the Garden if he was worried about burning out Fox and Lindgren, Quinn was blunt.
“Yes,” he said, before a long pause. “We’ll do a better job — not a better job, I shouldn’t say that. The penalties really skewed the way the D rotation was going. It was just too many penalties.”
Alexandar Georgiev was back in goal for Friday’s win, his third start in the past nine games.
The 25-year-old Bulgarian finished with 26 saves, including 10 in the final 20 minutes, and has earned wins in each of his last three starts. After a rocky beginning to the season, Georgiev said he feels like the work he’s put in on his game has paid off.
“It feels so far away, the beginning of the season and now,” he said. “We keep playing every other day and I think it helped to get the practices in, to get the game in. As the season goes, you start to be a little more aware of what you need to focus on the ice.”
With the back-to-back schedule, Quinn said he didn’t consider going with Igor Shesterkin again because of his recent heavy workload.
“No, I didn’t think of going back to Shesty,” he said. “Georgie played well in his last start and we feel confident in both goaltenders. At some point in time, Shesty will play back-to-back but that would be [two] and [three] starts too, so that’s the other piece of the puzzle, it’s not just the shortened season.”
The Rangers’ back-to-back home games against the Flyers on Thursday and Friday marked the first time in franchise history they had two regular-season matchups in a row against the same opponent at Madison Square Garden.