Is it time to worry about Igor Shesterkin?

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to notice that the Rangers goaltending has been a bit off this season. Specifically, Igor Shesterkin appears to be fighting it this season. When he’s on, he looks great. When he’s off, it seems the Rangers are getting blown out and Shesterkin is giving up 4-6 goals a game. Unfortunately, it’s those blowouts that stick in our minds.

In past years when the Rangers have had defensive struggles, Shesterkin bailed them out. There are fewer games this year where Shesterkin has been the reason why the Rangers were competitive. While this is mostly due to overall improvements in team defensive play, his struggles this year are also an input.

There are some rumblings about being concerned about Shesterkin, at least on social media, as those blowouts really are fresh in our minds. It’s just something we aren’t used to seeing. A blowout here and there is one thing, but it does appear –anecdotally– that Shesterkin has been all or nothing in games lately.

Instead of trying to piece together why, which is very subjective and can lead to many different conclusions, we should look at numbers to see what’s different on the ice this season. Igor’s save percentage is down, but again that doesn’t tell the whole story.

  • 2023-2024 season
    • HDSV% – .810
    • MDSV% – .868
    • LDSV% – .977
    • Rush attempts against (per 60 mins) – 2.24
    • Rebound attempts against (per 60) – 5.46
  • 2020-2023 seasons
    • HDSV% – .872
    • MDSV% – .920
    • LDSV% – .970
    • Rush attempts against (per 60 mins) – 1.78
    • Rebound attempts against (per 60) – 3.77

Looking at Igor’s stats from this season compared to the 2020-2023 seasons, it’s clear where the struggles are. Shesterkin’s high danger SV% is just .810 this season, down from .872 in his first 3 full seasons, a nearly 6% drop. Same for his medium danger SV%, down 5%. Those are significant enough drops in SV% that turn close games into blowouts and would certainly explain why he’s not making the big save he used to.

But it’s not all Igor. We’ve known that rush chances against are a weakness of the Rangers. The Rangers are allowing more rush chances per game this year than in prior years, and that’s definitely something we’ve seen where turnovers wind up as odd man rushes. Rebounds are up too, but that’s a bit more subject to random chance.

There are a few variables at play, and all are true:

  1. Igor is not making the big save this year the way he used to
  2. Igor’s high danger and medium danger SV% is way down this year
  3. The Rangers aren’t doing him any favors with so many rush chances against
  4. The Rangers are missing two of their best two-way/defensive forwards

Until the Rangers are fully healthy and no longer playing the revolving door of 15Fs, the rush chances against will likely continue. That’s just the unfortunate nature of the NHL season. More alarming is Igor not making the big save the way he used to. Part of that is Igor, part of that is overall team play.

This also goes to show you that improved team defense doesn’t mean perfect team defense. No team is perfect.

Unfortunately, we just need to ride this out and hope that as the Rangers get healthy, the rush chances against go down, which in turn should help some of Igor’s HD/MD struggles. There’s no simple answer here. The good news is the Rangers have found ways to win despite the struggles. It’s better for all this to happen now than in May and June.


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