Igor Shesterkin should resume lion’s share of games for Rangers

igor shesterkin
Oct 25, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) crouches in the net after allowing a goal against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

When the New York Rangers return from their long break on December 27th to face the Detroit Red Wings, it presents a great opportunity to ease Igor Shesterkin back.

Don’t get me wrong, the Wings have surprised a lot of teams this season with a 15-13-3 record. They are also decent offensively averaging 2.80 goals a game. For a goalie coming off an injury and weeks of inaction, that matchup is still a lot more ideal than facing the Colorado Avalanche per se.

Igor Shesterkin returning workload

Prior to the Rangers and Canadiens postponement, Shesterkin was taken off IR and was scheduled to start according to head coach Gerard Gallant. Which would have been another good game to get back into it. So it is logical to assume he will start against Detroit.

After that the Wings game, Gallant will have a few tough decisions to make regarding his goalies. Here’s their next five games after that:

  • 12/29 @ Florida Panthers (tied for 3rd overall)
  • 12/30 @ Tampa Bay Lightning (1st overall)
  • 1/2 vs Tampa Bay Lightning
  • 1/3 vs Edmonton Oilers (tied for 6th overall)
  • 1/6 @ Vegas Golden Knights (tied for 4th overall)

As you can see, the Rangers will be facing legitimate Cup contenders and all are well above .500. If Shesterkin comes out of the Detroit came unscathed and sharp, how many of those games should he get? If it were me, I’d give him all but one of the back-to-backs on 1/2 and 1/3.

Gallant hasn’t said it outright, but he likes to ride a hot goaltender making it possible. Before Shesterkin got hurt he had some Vezina worthy numbers too. His 13-3-2 record with a .937 SV% and a 2.05 GAA still have him in the conversation for the trophy, so long as he stays healthy and adds to it.

shesterkin injury
Nov 18, 2021; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) follows the play during the first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Alexandar Georgiev struggles with limited action

While many felt Georgiev had regressed to a point that some believed he should be sent to Hartford and waived, the Rangers did not. The 25 year-old goalie struggled this season due to a lack of playing time, but once he got in there consistently, he proved why they still had faith in him.

In Shesterkin’s absence the Rangers went 4-3-1. Georgiev posted a 3-2-1record and boasts a .931 SV% and 2.00 GAA in that span. Keith Kinkaid picked up the other win, with Adam Huska acting as the sacrificial lamb against the Colorado Avalanche for the other loss.

It will be interesting to see how the Rangers will balance the goalie workload, especially if Shesterkin gets hot. Playing around once a week depending on the schedule won’t work for Georgiev. That does raise the question about what to do with him regarding a trade.

Currently, his value is as high as it’s been all season. Would the Rangers dare make a move this season and let Kinkaid backup Shesterkin the rest of the way? Do they think the Dallas Star would eat 50% of Anton Khudobin’s contract in a trade for an upgrade at that position?

There’s a lot of questions regarding Georgiev, but when it comes to who is number one the answer is clear.

Igor Shesterkin should be receiving the lion’s share of games for the rest of the season.

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