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.