Caveat: Way too early to confirm anything. However Igor Shesterkin now has 53 games played, the same number of games in Henrik Lundqvist’s rookie season. As of now, Shesterkin sits with a 2.50 GAA and a .923 SV%. Lundqvist had a 2.24 GAA with a .922 SV%. Given the 2005-20016 Rangers were far better than last year’s Rangers, where Shesterkin got most of his starts, the GAA difference is more team related. However, for now, Igor Shesterkin is keeping pace with Henrik Lundqvist.
Again, this is way too early to make any definitive conclusions regarding Shesterkin’s ability to keep pace with Lundqvist. The one thing that continually set Lundqvist apart from the rest was Lundqvist needed to carry the Rangers for his entire career. He masked a ton of defensive mistakes. This led Glen Sather/Jeff Gorton to make horrible decisions on the blue line. As of now, Shesterkin has been blessed with the best defenseman in the NHL and one of the top young blue lines in the game.
Rangers fans have been blessed with solid goaltending for the last 20 years. We went from Lundqvist to Shesterkin, which is absolutely astounding. There is an entire generation of Rangers fans that doesn’t understand what bad or even league average goaltending looks like. Remember Mike Dunham? Those were the days.
Now the ball is in Chris Drury’s court. He has certainly gone for it in an unconventional way. Lundqvist did a lot with far less than Shesterkin, at least early on. Shesterkin certainly has the ability to get the Rangers over the hump. He can steal a game, as we’ve seen. He’s not jerky in his movements, and he’s taking what Henrik Lundqvist did to the next level.
There is a lot to be optimistic about with the Rangers, with the young and potentially elite talent. The difference maker may be in net with Igor Shesterkin. Keeping pace with Lundqvist in his rookie season is no easy feat.