New York Rangers lineup: Igor Shesterkin starts, Alexis Lafreniere returns
The New York Rangers will start Igor Shesterkin against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon.
Head coach Gerard Gallant said he would no longer reveal his starting goaltender before games for the rest of the season, but was in a jovial mood when asked by NY Post’s Mollie Walker at 10:30 this morning.
“It’s early and we’re close to game-time,” he said smiling.
New York Rangers lineup notes
Shesterkin, 26, is one of the top goalies in the NHL and is the leading candidate to claim the Vezina Trophy this season.
His stats to date are as follows:
- Record: 34-11-4 with 4 shutouts
- GAA: 2:09 (2ND)
- SV%: 934 (1ST)
Against the Detroit Red Wings, he’s only faced them twice in his career going 1-0-1 with a 1.93 GAA and .931 SV%.
Alexis Lafrenière will also make his return to the lineup after a game off to rest in the team’s 4-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
“Laffy’s going back in like I said yesterday,” Gallant noted. “We’re not sure (who is coming out).”
Yesterday at practice, Lafrenière was on the fourth line rotating with Dryden Hunt, Kevin Rooney, and Ryan Reaves. The most likely candidate to be scratched is Hunt, who plays Lafrenière’s natural position of LW on that line.
Lafrenière, 20, has recorded 15 goals and 25 points in 72 games this year to date.
The most hockey he’s played in a single hockey season was 2017-18 where he suited up in 61 regular season games and added 14 more in the playoffs in the QMJHL for the Rimouski Oceanic. He then added another 5 international games for a grand total of 79.
Update: Looks like there will be two new scratches as Ryan Reaves is out, and Patrik Nemeth will replace Justin Braun.
Benoit Allaire has the plan for the goalies
With regards to how the Rangers will divvy up starts for the remaining 7 games, Gallant said that the plan is handled by goaltending coach Benoit Allaire.
“Benny has a plan in place. I don’t talk to Igor or Georgie at all, he takes care of that,” Gallant revealed. “There’s a plan in place but sometimes it doesn’t go that way. We take it one game at a time but we are looking at the remainder of the season. Sometimes little things happen and we’ll just take it one day at a time.”
Thanks to the recent surge in Alexandar Georgiev’s play, the New York Rangers goaltending tandem lead the NHL in combined SV% at .919. They are also second in GAA at 2.48.
Shesterkin and Georgiev have a chance to claim the William H. Jennings as they are only behind the Carolina Hurricanes (2.35) in GAA.
The William H. Jennings Trophy is awarded annually to the goalie tandem that has the fewest goals scored against during the season (min 25 games played per goalie).
Rangers eyeing first place
The New York Rangers are eyeing the Carolina Hurricanes and first-place in the Metro Division.
Standing in their way are the Detroit Red Wings, who are coming off a 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes to keep the Rangers within two points of the division lead. The Canes will be facing league-leading Colorado as the Avalanche fight to win the Presidents Trophy as the NHL’s best team in the regular season.
Both Rangers-Red Wings games this season have required overtime. Detroit won a shootout 3-2 in New York on Feb. 17. Andrew Copp gave New York a 5-4 victory in Detroit on March 30 with an overtime goal.
Hurricanes and Avalanche battle
The Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche will battle tonight with the Rangers keeping a close eye on the division leaders. Check out The Daily Goal Horn for the latest news and rumors. Read more.