Igor Shesterkin’s All-Star Break struggles are alarming for Rangers
Igor Shesterkin was dominant last year. His numbers were almost video game like as he took home his first Vezina Trophy being named the NHL’s best goalie. This season, has been a different story.
Since January 1st 2023, the New York Rangers are 14-3-3, amassing 31 of a possible 40 points during that time span. They have been one of the hottest teams in the league and have vaulted themselves among those in the conversation of Stanley Cup contenders.
The team has done all of this with the struggling play of its All-Star goaltender.
Igor Shesterkin struggling post All-Star Break
Looking at games that have taken place from the start of the 2023 calendar year Shesterkin has an 8-3-2 record following the teams 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
On the surface this seems normal, one of the best goaltenders in the league helping his team to .692 win percentage in games he starts. But peel back the layers and you’ll find a deeper rooted issue.
According to StatMuse, Shesterkin ranks 25th in save percentage among NHL goalies with at least 10+ starts in 2023 and 18th in goals against average with the same parameters. If basic stats are not your thing and you like advanced metrics, Shesterkin has been bad in those as well. His goals saved above expected since the new year is 2.80. Shrink that time frame to post All-Star break and Shesterkin has a -3.23 goals saved above expected; meaning he’s allowing more low danger goals.
If you think this isn’t eating away at him, you’d be wrong. After last night’s loss Shesterkin refused to speak with the media despite suffering his first regulation loss since January 19 versus the Bruins.
“I thought he was fine,” Gerard Gallant defended Shesterkin. “The goals he let in, I don’t see many issues with them. First two, there wasn’t much he could do on them. He’s screened and doesn’t see it, gets double tipped. It’s the way it goes some nights.”
Does Igor Shesterkin need more work?
The question Shesterkin and the Rangers must answer is what’s causing these struggles?
Since the start of the new year, the Rangers rank 7th in the NHL in shots on goal against per game with 29.45, and maybe that has factored into Shesterkin’s dip. In his career, Shesterkin is 23-11-6 (.650 point percentage) when facing 35+ shots in a night. Even crazier is that he has yet to lose a game in regulation in his career when facing 40+ shots on the night, 12-0-3 (.900 point percentage).
Now the argument here might be that Shesterkin is better when he faces a lot of shots and is engaged throughout the night. But that hasn’t necessarily been the case throughout his career either. In games where he faces less than 25 shots, he is 23-8-0, with one of those losses coming in 2021 against the Bruins where he came in relief for Alexander Georgiev and gave up one goal on two shots in a 4-1 loss.
The fact of the matter is that Igor Shesterkin has hit a rough patch in his season. It’s better that it’s happening now than come April and May. But if the Rangers want to be serious Stanley Cup contenders, which it appears they see themselves as, Shesterkin has to figure out a way to find his game again come the home stretch of the season and into the playoffs.
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