Semyon Varlamov

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Rangers getting a good look at the future, despite playoff disappointment


Silver linings for teams far off the playoff line are few and far between at this time of the year.

But if there is one that can be taken for any team looking at re-tooling or rebuilding for next season, it’s the ability to take a look at the future crop against NHL adversaries.

The New York Rangers are one of these teams. They declared themselves open for business prior to the trade deadline and dealt away some big names, including Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh, for some younger talent.

They’re also facing a challenge with aging goaltender Henrik Lundqvist who, as great as he is, won’t win the battle with Father Time.

Needing to fill holes at several positions, the Rangers have been able to take a good look at a couple of promising prospects, including what may well be their future between the pipes.

New York has played rookie Alexandar Georgiev six times and owns a 3-2-0 record since he played his first NHL game on Feb. 22. Despite picking up the loss, Georgiev allowed just two goals on 40 shots for a .950 save percentage.

He’d give up four in his next start the following night, but since then has amassed three straight wins, including a 37-save performance on Wednesday against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins. He’ll be called upon again on Saturday, another test and another chance for evaluation.

The inital analysis is promising. Georgiev is sitting on a very respectable .929 save percentage in his brief time in the NHL and he’s already turning heads around the league.’s Kevin Woodley’s wrote that Georgiev is taking after the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Semyon Varlamov and Sergei Bobrovsky — some pretty good company.

Blueshirt Banter’s Tom Urtz Jr. took a really deep dive in Georgiev, concluding by calling him a “pleasant surprise.”

There’s a lot to like about him, his potential is visible, and the circumstances are set up in his favor for him to be able to prove himself more in an extended setting next season,” Urtz Jr. wrote.

Shifting to the men in the rearguard, Neal Pionk is making the most the big minutes he’s been getting over the past 17 games, and he’s starting to produce.

Pionk is on a three-game point streak with five assists during that span.

Also 22 and also undrafted, Pionk, like Georgiev, is showing real promise on defense.

“He competes hard and he’s got a good skill set,” Vigneault told on Friday. “He can make that good pass and there’s no doubt that in his college and prior to that, he was considered an offensive defenseman. He’d join the rush and was good on the power play, so there is some upside there with him. We need to continue to work at his game and continue to improve it.”

The Rangers appear to have some budding young talent and an array of players to build around with the likes Pavel Buchnevich, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jimmy Vesey — assuming they sign the latter two who are set to become RFAs at the end of this season.

And perhaps most importantly, the Rangers, who have long held the distinction as a team where old players go to get older, seem to finally be favoring youth over past-their-prime talent.

That’s good news for Rangers fans.

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

WATCH LIVE: Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild

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[WATCH LIVE – 8:30 p.m. ET]



Jason ZuckerEric StaalMikael Granlund

Zach PariseMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle

Nino NiederreiterJoel Eriksson EkTyler Ennis

Daniel WinnikMatt CullenMarcus Foligno

Ryan SuterJared Spurgeon

Jonas BrodinMatt Dumba

Nick SeelerNate Prosser

Starting goalie: Devan Dubnyk

[NHL on NBCSN: Avalanche, Wild meet with important points on the line]


Gabriel LandeskogNathan MacKinnonMikko Rantanen

Sven AndrighettoTyson JostJ.T. Compher

Matt NietoCarl SoderbergBlake Comeau

Alexander KerfootDominic ToninatoGabriel Bourque

Nikita ZadorovTyson Barrie

Patrik NemethSamuel Girard

Duncan SiemensDavid Warsofsky

Starting goalie: Semyon Varlamov

NHL on NBCSN: Avalanche, Wild meet with important points on the line

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues on Tuesday as the Minnesota Wild take on the Colorado Avalanche at 8:30 p.m. ET. To watch the game online, click here.

After a week of playing against teams out of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Wild will see six of their next seven games against teams currently sitting in postseason spots. It begins tonight against the Avalanche, who romped to a 7-1 win when these teams met 11 days ago. Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon had himself a night with two goals and five points.

The Wild are on 85 points and reside in the third spot in the Central Division, but the Dallas Stars (82 points) and Avs (80) are right on their tail. Now is not a time for a March swoon.

“We know every point matters (over the course of the season),” said Mikko Koivu via the Pioneer Press. “That said, it’s a different feeling playing a game in March. … It’s a good feeling to come to the rink. It’s all business this time of the season.”

[WATCH LIVE – 8:30 p.m. ET]

With wins over Minnesota by scores of 7-2 and 7-1 this season, the Avs might feel a bit confident heading into tonight’s game with big playoff race implications. Semyon Varlamov will likely get the start in goal as he searches for his first win since that rout on March 2. His last three starts have not gone well as he’s allowed 11 goals in three overtime losses.

[The 2018 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs begin April 11 on the networks of NBC]

With Jonathan Bernier sidelined after taking a puck to the head following his return on Saturday, the Avs need Varlamov to get his game right with a month to go in the regular season. Just as the Wild have teams nipping at their heels, Colorado is clinging to the final wild card spot with Anaheim, St. Louis and Calgary all within striking distance.

“(Varlamov) has been great,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said via the Denver Post. “He had some time off when he re-tweaked his groin there midseason (with) three weeks or so off. He’s been getting lots of rest on practice days, so he looks good and feels good. Not a problem there for him carrying the load right now.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

The Buzzer: Auston Matthews’ late-game heroics; Pens move into top spot in Metropolitan


Be sure to visit and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

Players of the Night:

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers: Giroux notched a goal and two assists in Sunday’s win over the New York Rangers. The goal was the 200th of his career. He’s been incredible this year. The Flyers forward is up to 69 points in 59 games, which puts him on pace to score 96 points. Giroux now has four multi-point performances in his last six outings.

Travis Konecny, Philadelphia Flyers: Like his teammate Giroux, Konecny also picked up a goal and two assists. He’s now accumulated 18 points in 15 games. Konecny is currently riding a four-game point streak.

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers: Even though the Oilers are struggling this season, McDavid has found a way to remain productive. His hat trick in Sunday’s tilt against the Avalanche was his third of the season. After scoring 100 points last year, he’s on pace to hit 98 right now.

Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins: Guentzel’s three-point night helped propel the Penguins to victory against the Blue Jackets. Guentzel now has five points in his last four games.

Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks: Pavelski had a three-point night of his own against the Dallas Stars. If you scroll a little lower, you’ll see his spin-o-rama goal. The veteran isn’t having his best season, but he’s managed to pick up nine points in his last six games.

Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets: The Jets are an offensive machine that not many teams can stop right now. Connor picked up a pair of goals against the Panthers, which means he’s already scored 19 times in his first full NHL season.

Highlights of the Night:

Taylor Hall comes up clutch against the Hurricanes:

If you like spinning backhanders, Joe Pavelski has you covered:

How about this save from Semyon Varlamov:

The hand-eye coordination from Evgenii Dadonov is pretty ridiculous:

Sometimes it takes two to keep the puck out of the net:

Connor Hellebuyck made a sweet save of his own against the Panthers:

Factoids of the Night:

Auston Matthews‘ late-game heroics against Detroit:

The two-time defending Stanley Cup Champions are in top spot in the Metropolitan Division:

Hall is en fuego:


Flyers 7, Rangers 4

Oilers 4, Avalanche 2

Devils 3, Hurricanes 2 (OT)

Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 2

Maple Leafs 3, Red Wings 2

Sharks 5, Stars 2

Jets 7, Panthers 2

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

The Buzzer: Kadri nets a hatty, Andersen stops 54, Varlamov shuts the door

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Be sure to visit and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

Players of the Night:

Nazem Kadri, Toronto Maple Leafs: Kadri continued his torrid pace as of late, scoring a hat trick and recording five points in a 6-3 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Kadri has seven goals in his past 10 games.

Frederik Andersen, Toronto Maple Leafs: The Blue Jackets put 57 shots on Anderson. He stopped 54 of them. Yes, 54 saves – a career-high. Unreal.

Semyon Varlamov, Colorado Avalanche: Varlamov turned aside 43 shots, including five on the power play, to help the Avalanche to a 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens. It was Varlamov’s first win since Dec. 29.

Highlights of the Night: 

Andersen doing his thing:

Korpisalo, the Maple Leafs killer (not quite on Wednesday) but my goodness this save:

Sticking with the nice save theme:

Kadri’s hat trick goal, and quite the pass from Marner:

Factoids of the Night:


Maple Leafs 6, Blue Jackets 3

Avalanche 2, Canadiens 0

Panthers 4, Canucks 3

Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck