Rangers and Igor Shesterkin should take advantage of Jonathan Quick’s hot goaltending

The New York Rangers need Igor Shesterkin healthy and fresh for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They also need Igor to regain his form from the previous two seasons, as he’s struggled since returning from a 16 day absence due to an injury suffered versus the Carolina Hurricanes on November 2.

Before that 2-1 win over the Canes, Igor was 6-2-0 with a 2.36 GAA and a solid .913 save percentage. Upon rejoining the team, he’s looked slightly off and it’s showing in the numbers. Since coming back, he’s 4-4-0 and has an uncharacteristic 3.28 GAA along with a .905 save percentage.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Quick has been a revelation in goal for the Blueshirts this season. The 37 year-old has yet to suffer a regulation loss with a record of 8-0-1. More importantly, he’s been really sharp with a 2.20 GAA and a .922 save percentage.

All of this is adding up to allowing Igor Shesterkin more time to simplify his game and work with goalie guru Benoit Allaire. Not having to deal with the pressure of needing to be in net every game thanks to Quick’s goaltending is a luxury that the Rangers should take advantage of immediately.

Related: Rangers weekend split has team on track

Igor Shesterkin could use more time with Benoit Allaire

NHL: New York Rangers at Dallas Stars
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As the Rangers continue to be one of the best teams in hockey, one area of concern has been the play of Igor Shesterkin.

Has Igor been bad? Not really. His overall record is 10-6-0 and he’s been clutch more often than not. However, Shesterkin’s set such a high bar after winning the Vezina Trophy in 2021-22 that when his play slips even a little, it’s very noticeable.

According to NHL Edge, Shesterkin’s GAA of 2.48 ranked in the 83rd percentile, his .916 save percentage was at 81, and his high-danger save percentage of .852 was 91st last season. So far this campaign, his numbers are well below what we’ve come to expect. Compared to other goalies, his GAA of 2.83 ranks at 60, and his .908 save percentage ranks him 62nd. Here’s the real glaring issue: with just an .797 save percentage on high-danger chances, he’s coming in below the league average. Anyone who has seen Shesterkin play goal knows that spectacular saves are the norm for this master netminder.

The argument being made in defense of Shesterkin is that the team hasn’t played well in front of him, especially as of late. Now there’s some truth to that, but let’s go further down the rabbit hole. Per Natural Stat Trick, Igor faced more high danger shots against per game in 2022-23 at 7.12 compared to this season’s 6.06 at 5v5. And for those who feel that the Rangers play better defense in front of Quick, he’s seeing 6.6 high-danger shots per game with a save percentage of .833 against those opportunities.

So whether you solely rely on the eye-test or the analytics, it’s obvious that Shesterkin isn’t playing up to his standards.

Let’s also make this clear, there’s no goalie controversy brewing on Broadway and there’s no reason to push the panic button on Igor’s play. That being said, the Rangers have a red-hot Quick going really well and that should give them the flexibility to lighten Shesterkin’s workload. That will give him and Allaire time to focus on getting back to basics in practice.

Remember, the Stanley Cup isn’t handed out in December. A few less games in the middle of the season will probably help Shesterkin and the Rangers in the long run.

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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