Igor Shesterkin versus Andrei Vasilevskiy is a goalie duel delight

igor shesterkin
Jan 2, 2022; New York, New York, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) takes a shot on New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin (31) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning are ready to compete for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final. This Eastern Conference Final will feature two of the best goalies in the NHL, who are both playing with pride for their team and their homeland. 

Igor Shesterkin is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy and the Hart Trophy following an impressive regular season posting a 36-13-4 record with a .935 save percentage and a 2.07 GAA. Tampa’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and is 5-0 with an 0.80 GAA, .978 save percentage, and a shutout to close out the Florida Panthers.

The line is drawn in the sand with one of the most anticipated goalie duels in playoff history.

Igor Shesterkin impressive young star

Shesterkin’s successful regular season has carried over to the NHL playoffs this season, despite a hiccup in Pittsburgh, where he has a 8-5 record including two Game 7 wins along with wins in five straight elimination wins. He has carried this team on his shoulders, especially in the second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes where he allowed just 12 goals in the seven games played.

The 26-year-old Shesterkin is well aware of what lies in front of him as the series begins Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

“He’s the best goalie in the world right now,” Shesterkin said of Vasilevskiy. “It will be a battle.”

Rangers forward Ryan Strome was excited about his goalie’s performance on the ice but was even more surprised about how well Shesterkin understands the game.

“An underrated thing is the way he understands the game,” Strome said. “His hockey IQ is one of the highest on our team. I don’t know if I’ve ever said that about a goalie on my team before.”

Barclay Goodrow, who has his name on the Stanley Cup twice thanks to Vasilevskiy probably had the most interesting comment of them all on Tuesday.

“I’ll take Shesty all day.”

Andrei Vasilevskiy a proven winner

igor shesterkin versus andrei vasilevskiy
Nov 14, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) makes a save against the New York Rangers during the second period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On the other side of the ice is the cool and calm Vasliveskiy. He has been through this playoff gauntlet before and recognizes the importance of playing his best hockey as one of the final four teams remaining in the Playoffs.

“I’m the young guy still,” Vasilevskiy, 27, joked. “I mean, he’s like what, just two years younger than me, so not much difference. Obviously, it’s the same as usual. I just have to step up and show him my best game.”

Tampa Bay Times

The hype of these two goalies duking it out has been anticipated for some time, but it’s not all about the goalies individually. Rangers forward and their leading playoff goal scorer with 8, Chris Kreider had a different take on the upcoming ECF.

“I think sometimes you guys like to oversimplify the game of hockey and make it about individual players.” Kreider explained. “In reality, it’s 20 guys versus 20 guys. At the same time, I think the best two goalies in the world are going against each other.”

New York Rangers vs Tampa Bay Lightning Schedule

GM 1: Wednesday, 6/1 @NYR8PM ET(ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
GM 2: Friday, 6/3 @NYR8PM ET(ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
GM 3: Sunday, 6/5 @TB3PM ET(ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
GM 4: Tuesday, 6/7 @TB8PM ET(ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
GM 5: Thursday, 6/9 @NYR*8PM ET(ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
GM 6: Saturday, 6/11 @TB*8PM ET(ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
GM 7: Tuesday, 6/14 @NYR*8PM ET(ESPN, CBC, SN, TVAS)
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINAL SCHEDULE
*If necessary

NHL Playoffs Previews and Predictions for Round 3

The Avalanche and Oilers along with the Rangers and Lightning are ready to battle in the Conference Finals. Get the latest previews and predictions here. Read More.