Musings

Thoughts on Igor Shesterkin as the starting goalie in the playoffs

All signs are pointing to Igor Shesterkin taking the mantle as the starting goalie for the NY Rangers during the play-in round. While this shouldn’t be much of a surprise, there was a valid argument for Henrik Lundqvist. There’s also a chance that Lundqvist gets the role if Shesterkin doesn’t have it in the first game. As per usual, there are some thoughts.

1. It’s a little poetic, seeing Shesterkin take the starting role so quickly after his recall. In 2005, it was Lundqvist who usurped Kevin Weekes after Weekes went down with an injury. The Rangers needed to play Lundqvist and never looked back. Fourteen years later, the Rangers needed to recall Shesterkin and haven’t looked back.

2. It’s also very bittersweet seeing Shesterkin take the role. It’s a passing of the torch, from a generational talent to a kid who looks to be the next great netminder for the Rangers. What makes Shesterkin so special is how calm he looks in net. He carries himself differently, the way Lundqvist was different in 2005. Watching Lundqvist in net has been a pure joy, and now we see the next one.

3. This may be premature, to say the starter’s role is Shesterkin’s for good, but it sure is looking that way.

4. Here’s a fun thing I saw on Twitter (I forgot where – sorry, not intentional). If the Rangers win the Cup and Lundqvist doesn’t play a game at all, I, along with others will flaunt that “He’s got a ring!” to all the “He’s no good because he doesn’t have a ring” people. A ring is a ring, and I don’t care. Fight me.

5. Igor Shesterkin does deserve to be the starting goalie. He’s the best goalie on the team at the moment. That’s just pure statistical fact at this point. There’s an added benefit here, as there isn’t much NHL tape on him, so he could have that “rookie goalie hot streak” if all lines up.

6. One thing to keep in mind in the play-in rounds – these teams have had months to watch tape and learn about one another. This is no ordinary playoff series. Coaching will play a huge role, as there is more knowledge about the opposition. Or at least, logically that’s what makes sense.

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  • YES, YES, YES! My Wife and I have been saying if The King gets a Ring whether he plays a game or not, he will be one of the Rangers Greatest Ever with the Ring to prove it.

  • I like the idea of throwing the kid into the fire immediately. He played too well for him not to be the choice despite Hank’s spectacular record vs. the Canes. Besides, if Igor falters, he’s got the greatest backup in the world in Hank waiting in the wings.

    • I do not think there is any advantage to having someone looking over your goalie’s shoulder. The Rangers have a truly outstanding goaltender and we do not want him second guessing himself.

      The notion that the Rangers (or Boston or Tampa Bay or any other team for that matter) could actually win the Cup with 2020 Hank in goal is absurd and one needs to let Shesty get his rhythm in the first round.

      • To characterize Hank as backup as ‘looking over his shoulder’ is rather odd. Backups are part of every team. If a goal tender doesn’t have it on any given night or during a series the backup gets the call. I don’t get your point.

        • All backups are not the same. Vancouver had a serious problem a few years back when Cory Schneider was backing up Luongo. Fans were crying for Schneider and it just made Luongo’s job harder. Whether this ultimately cost the Canucks a Cup, we’ll never know.

          In contrast, Cam Talbot posted the second highest save percentage ever for a goalie playing 20 games in 2013-2014. The thought that Talbot would start a playoff game was never considered by Vigneault, the fans, Hank or Talbot, even when Hank gave up 11 goals and a 3-0 lead to LA.

          And that was right. Lundqvist had enough to worry about with the Flyers, Penguins, Canadiens, Kings. He did not need to have to worry about getting second guessed by his coach.

          It is good if your goalies are 1 and 2, not so good if they are 1 and 1A.

          ***********

          Another crucial point. You win the Cup by having a goalie who thinks he can beat anybody. Not trusting him against Carolina because somebody else is better against them is not a good way to foster that arrogance.

  • Actually the elevations of Lundqvist and Shesterkin were nothing alike. In 2005, Hank was already the Ranger backup and in fact had already proved to eveyone except Tom Renney that he was the Rangers’ goalie. The Weekes injury simply forced Renney to do the right thing.

    In contrast, the Rangers already had two acceptable goalies in 2020 and needed a third goalie like a hole in the head. However, unlike Renney, David Quinn embraced reality and did not have to be backed into it. He understood that the best goalie in the organization was the guy who was making a mediocre Hartford team into a really good team. Shesterkin was as advertised and DQ never looked back.

    Most people believe that Lundqvist is the best Ranger tender to date and we really do not know exactly where Shesty will end up. But make no mistake. Shesterkin has a much higher ceiling than Lundqvist.

    • Agree although it is sad to see the King in this situation. He’s the greatest Ranger ever IMHO but time spares no one:
      SEASON AGE SV % GAA
      2014-15 32 .922 2.25
      2015-16 33 .920 2.48
      2016-17 34 .910 2.74
      2017-18 35 .915 2.98
      2018-19 36 .907 3.07
      2019-20 37 .905 3.16

      Igor!

  • If you have your eye on the future than it only makes sense to let Igor get some playoff experience … but even if you don’t, he’s looked like the best goalie we have over the course of the whole season.

    Hank or Igor, either way we should be relatively fine, but again if it’s the next 8-10 years that truly concerns us then Igor should be in the net getting baptized.

    • If the Rangers win the Cup, both Lundqvist and Georgiev will get their names on it as they have dressed for 41 games this season. Shesterkin has not yet qualified, but needs to dress (does not even have to play) in a playoff game.

  • I just might be Hanks biggest fan………But our future will bode well for us if Igor plays great in these playoffs (especially giving him playoff experience) I will ALWAYS thank Hank for being a Ranger. If …….if we get an advantage in a series I would play him in a game ……. we will see ………Lets Go Rangers !!!!!

    • I think that would be fair. Remember, please don’t count Hank out yet. The man is a proven winner. Igor is in uncharted waters! Is he good? Yes he is! However, uncharted non the less. If Igor flops, Hank could be the one to take us to the CUP. It is not far-fetched.If so, wouldn’t that be the grandest way of all to go out! Even if he stays and backs up next year. I’m real excited by the possibilities this playoff, but I always am if the Rangers are in.
      LGR!

      • Fifteen goaltenders have played 100+ playoff games in the last fifty years. Most have won many more games than they have lost. At 61-65, Lundqvist has the worst record of the bunch. So a proven playoff winner he is not.

        The man was incredible in the 2006 Olympics, but that was a long time ago.

        • I never said proven playoff winner. However, A lot of the reason for that record is the Ranger went the distance in most series and lost: 3-4

  • i would have no problem starting Hank in game one. He has the stats to back it up. Put the pressure on the Canes to beat him. Igor an Shesty would still get a chance to play.

  • IMO, it was really silly to believe that all three goalies had a shot to start game 1….but seriously speaking no one is going to outplay Igor…He is is the superior netminder. With all due respect to Hank, who I love, Igor give us the best chance to advance…..

  • …though he has no NHL playoff experience, Igor will not be fazed. Kid has a chip on his shoulder and plays with extreme confidence….

  • Is there really a question who should start in goal at this point? It is for Shesty to lose. The kid is phenomenal and cool as a cucumber and will only improve, if that is possible. Good old Hank may still have a good game now and then, but I feel much more confident with Igor or even Georgiv in net, for that matter. Go Rangers!

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