July 30, 2020

Lundqvist more impressive than Shesterkin in exhibition, should he start?

Henrik Lundqvist (Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images)

This question was going to be inevitable after last night’s exhibition game against the Islanders. Which goalie should David Quinn start in game one of the qualifying round.

Both goalies played well last night, although statistically Henrik Lundqvist posted better numbers. The King stopped 14 of 15 shots he faced in his half of action. Meanwhile, the Czar stopped 6 of 7, surrendering a goal just moments before being lifted.

The Rangers coach has not announced a starter yet, so let’s quickly break down the case for each.

The case to start Igor Shesterkin

When it comes to who is most likely to win the starting job against Carolina, The Czar has supplanted The King. While he has only seen limited action this season since his call up, he has been by far the Rangers clear cut best. He has lived up to his billing as a future #1 coming over from the KHL and then dominating the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Shesterkin (Karl DeBlaker/Getty Images)

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.

One big plus for Shesterkin is his ability to play the puck. The Rangers will have to deal with the Hurricanes forecheck and having a “3rd defenseman” out there to help with breakouts boosts the transition game greatly.

The case to start Henrik Lundqvist

The Rangers icon has a fire in his belly and wants his starting job back. In a recent interview with Johan Rylander, Lundqvist was blunt when asked about his playing time and being regulated as an honorary backup most games.

“Obviously it is disappointing to not play as much as you want. That’s where the disappointment is,” Henrik said. “It’s more… not on them (the Rangers), but more that it became as it became. And if I not had been disappointed, then I sell myself short. I want to play, to deliver at a high level. If I don’t, I will be disappointed.” The King finished with the following statement: “I have to fight – if I want to go back and have that place in the net.”

Lundqvist is back in NY (Bruce Bennett – Getty Images)

At 38 years old, Henrik is going to have to put up some fight to wrestle the job away from Igor Shesterkin. While his numbers this year were decent, they are a far cry from what we are used to from Lundqvist. An under .500 record at 10-12-3 with a .905 SV% and a very un-Kingly 3.16 GAA.

However, against the Carolina Hurricanes this season he was Classic Hank with a perfect 3-0 record, a 2.33 GAA, and a remarkable .947 SV%. Henrik Lundqvist is 33-12-1 for his career against the Canes. Who knows, maybe past is prologue for the legend that has manned the nets for the Blueshirts for the last 15 seasons.

Who will David Quinn choose as his starter?

There is no doubt in my mind that David Quinn will look to Igor first when it comes to starting game one. Henrik Lundqvist will be the back-up and be ready to go if need.

In a recent interview with MSG Analyst, Steve Valiquette he explained why he feels Shesterkin will start. Lundqvist’s former backup also cautioned the Hurricanes that a pissed off Hank is very dangerous, should he get into the series.

All stats from hockey-reference.com

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