Rangers All-Star told Igor Shesterkin ‘he deserved better’ after playoff loss

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Florida Panthers
Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers’ 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final that ended their season was a devasting blow for the Presidents’ Trophy winners, who clearly had their sights set on winning the Stanley Cup this season.

As many of the Rangers knelt on the ice and somberly took in the reality of their fate following the sound of the final horn, Vincent Trocheck approached goalie Igor Shesterkin, who was on the bench in the final minutes when the Rangers put a sixth attacker on the ice, and embraced him, talking into his ear.

“I just told him he was our best player and he deserved better,” Trocheck told reporters Tuesday during exit-day interviews.

Despite a series loss in six games to the Panthers, who returned to the Stanley Cup Final for the second season in a row, Shesterkin was brilliant, posting a .930 save percentage and 2.25 GAA in the Eastern Conference Final.

“‘Shesty’ — he was our best player by a significant margin in the playoffs,” Trocheck added. “I thought if there was one guy that needed to hear that right after the loss to kinda keep his spirits up.”

Shesterkin’s 13.1 goals saved above average in the postseason ranks second among all postseason goaltenders. Even when the offense and defense in front of him faltered in the later stages of their postseason run, he remained sharp and kept the Blueshirts in games.

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Vincent Trocheck says Rangers have ’empty feeling’ after stunning end to season

It was not the ending to the season that they envisioned, after posting the League’s best record and setting a new NHL mark with 34 comeback wins across the regular season and postseason.

“I mean it was a pretty empty feeling,” Trocheck reflected. “You go as far as we did and put in as much effort and invest so much into this season, make it to the Eastern Conference Final, you’re playing this late in the season, to come up short is just — it sucks — it’s not fun.”

The Rangers reached the conference final for the second time in three seasons. However, just like in 2022, when their run ended at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning, they failed to get past Game 6.

This upcoming offseason will spawn many questions about Rangers’ core and whether or not they are built to win a Cup. For what it’s worth, Trocheck doesn’t think that they’re too far away.

“At times this year, I thought we were unbeatable. If we could just fine-tune the game a little bit more, I think we’re right there. It’s not necessarily the guys; it’s just finding another level, I think. I think this is the start of becoming our identity.”

Lou Orlando has spent the past two seasons as a New York Rangers beat reporter for WFUV Sports. The... More about Lou Orlando

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