Igor Shesterkin is struggling right now, and that’s perfectly fine
Igor Shesterkin is struggling at the moment for the New York Rangers. It doesn’t take detailed or critical analysis to show this. His last five starts have been under a .900 SV%, and he’s clearly fighting the puck. There have been some goals against that we have become accustomed to him stopping, so when he struggles, it is obvious and glaring. All goalies go through spells like this, so while Shesterkin is struggling, it’s perfectly fine and not the end of the world.
In his last five starts, Shesterkin has stopped just 115 of 133 shots for a .864 SV%. He’s given up 4 goals in his last three starts, and 3 goals in his previous two starts. On paper, it’s certainly bad. Again, Shesterkin is struggling. Without diving into the quality chances allowed by the team defense, and there were many, we can safely say that Shesterkin’s recent stretch hasn’t been his finest.
But, the Rangers won 4 of those games. The Blueshirts bailed out their goalie on each occasion until last night’s loss to Winnipeg. That was when Connor Hellebuyck arguably stole one for the Jets. Hellebuyck is the likely favorite for the Vezina Trophy this season, which again amplifies Shesterkin’s struggles.
So to recap: Igor Shesterkin is struggling. The Rangers won four of those five games in which he struggled. The only loss was because the likely Vezina winner stole one.
This is what we call the definition of an overblown “controversy” that people are making into something bigger than it is. Shesterkin is a top-5 goalie in the league, nothing has changed. All goalies struggle.
The good news is that Shesterkin is struggling at a time where the games aren’t that critical. The Rangers are essentially locked into a first round matchup with the Devils. They are essentially just playing for home ice in the first round. They are mathematically able to catch Carolina, but it’s unlikely at this point. The Rangers have been fantastic since the helmet throw, but actually *lost* ground on Carolina.
There’s only so much a team can do when the division leader has simply played better hockey. The Blueshirts are still within striking distance of the Devils for home ice in the first round, and given the way both teams are playing, the Rangers may overtake the Devils by the end of March.
The loss to Winnipeg was a “good loss” in the sense that the team played well, but got goalie’d. Shesterkin is struggling, and we know that it won’t last.
Better off that Shesterkin is struggling now than in April, May, or June. Right?