The Rangers are absolutely dominating opponents in most aspects of the game right now. They’ve dismantled two teams with Stanley Cup aspirations, and a third (Anaheim) that just simply couldn’t keep up. But the scores are closer than they should be. That is mostly because, and remember the title, Igor Shesterkin’s slow start has been noticeable.
We knew he wouldn’t post a .940 SV% for most of the season, and if you were expecting that, then you have some serious expectation problems. That said, Igor Shesterkin’s slow start was certainly evident in last night’s win over Anaheim, as he allowed a pair of goals when the Rangers were up three, giving Anaheim potential hope that it could be a game.
This isn’t Shesterkin slander or criticism, again note the title, it’s simply calling out that a .905 SV% through three games is an odd stat for him. The Rangers have been another class of team thus far, with puck possession and play driving metrics that finally match the elite talent up front and on the blue line. Last year, Shesterkin had to carry the team. This year, he does not.
Igor Shesterkin’s slow start isn’t a concern
It’s only been three games for Shesterkin, and perhaps the surprise is that we haven’t seen this kind of stretch from him in the regular season. He came down to Earth in March last season and had some issues against Pittsburgh in the playoffs, so perhaps it is best if expectations are leveled a bit. He finished last season with a .935 SV%. If anything, Igor Shesterkin’s slow start ensures that we will get a “more normal” season from him.
The hope and expectation is that Shesterkin finishes with around a .920 SV%. Only 4 goalies who played regularly finished last season with a number that high, so that would continue to keep Shesterkin in the upper echelon of goalies. As a reminder, Henrik Lundqvist never finished a season with a SV% higher than .929/.930 (depending on which site you use). So for Shesterkin to finish half a percentage point higher last year is a huge accomplishment.
The Rangers haven’t had that elite level goaltending yet, which is why these games are 6-4 and not 6-1 or 6-2. That’s how hockey works. The team picks up when others struggle. Igor Shesterkin’s slow start is being masked by ridiculous offense and effectiveness. When, not if, Shesterkin returns to form, the Rangers are still going to be a force to be reckoned with.