The New York Rangers are off today but it stands to be one of the biggest days since camp opened last Monday. That’s because David Quinn and his staff have some key decisions to make.
“I think all these three guys are in a good spot,” David Quinn said about his goaltenders after a week of training camp. The team has just a few more practices before heading to Toronto later this week and naming a starter is the most important decision.
Rangers need to name their starting goaltender
“I think we’re probably going to have a conversation here,” Quinn stated with regards to his goaltenders. “Now it’s time to reassess where we are at and take it from there.”
The Rangers head coach was talking about the entire lineup when it came to conversations taking place today. Outside of possibly Libor Hajek challenging Brendan Smith’s spot on defense, which he’s unlikely to supplant, the real talk will be about the starter.
The importance of knowing who the Rangers starter is
Quinn’s charges have one exhibition game against the Islanders on the 29th before the real games begin on August 1st. It would be best for the team to know which goalie they will be playing in front of for many reasons.
If it’s Igor Shesterkin, the Rangers can play a little differently on defense because he is an excellent puck handler. Shesterkin acts as a third defenseman on dump-ins and allows them to transition even faster than they normally do.
Henrik Lundqvist, for as incredible as he’s been his entire career is very weak at handling the puck. When he’s in net, the Rangers defense needs to hustle back and retrieve it almost 100% of the time.
It was Shesterkin’s job to lose, he didn’t
Igor Shesterkin was already named by David Quinn as the team’s number one goalie on the strength of his play before the pause. He simply was stopping more pucks and winning games on a consistent basis. It was his job to lose coming into camp, and he didn’t. He’s been outstanding.
This season, Shesterkin basically helped propel the Rangers into playoff contention with stellar netminding. The 24 year-old posted a 10-2 record in 12 games with a 2.52 GAA and a whopping .932 SV%. He did so in impressive fashion earning a 7 game winning streak that included a 5-2 win against Carolina. He also faced over 40 shots in 5 of his 12 starts, winning every single contest.
Henrik Lundqvist also had a solid camp and emerged as the clear backup over Alexandar Georgiev. His presence and locker room leadership will be key to the Rangers going deep in these playoffs.
Shesterkin is ready for the challenge of the NHL playoffs
Unlike some of his other Russian counterparts, Igor Shesterkin stayed in the U.S., mostly due to not wanting put his dog on a plane. He worked out with Alex Ovechkin twice and it can’t hurt to face that shot when getting back into shape.
Yesterday Shesterkin was asked if he expected to get most of the games to which he provided a diplomatic response. “It all depends on the coaching staff, no matter what happens I will be supportive of my teammates.” Shesterkin did add that he worked very hard to be in a position to do so.
The Czar of New York did honor The King when he said, “Watching Henrik, you see the work ethic. It’s an unbelievable crazy work ethic.” Shesterkin also said that he learned a lot from NHL players about not getting too high or low after wins and losses.
David Quinn knows Shesterkin has the ability to be the number one based on his play. The head coach who also believes a player needs “swagger”, which he feels the Czar has plenty of both on and off the ice. The safe choice is going with the veteran, Henrik Lundqvist. The right choice is going with the kid, Igor Shesterkin.
It’s his time to shine.
Check out Fanatics and pick up a NYR Tee or Jersey
The playoffs are here! Grab some Rangers gear at Fanatics today.