Rangers goalie needs to improve in these situations

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Igor Shesterkin has arguably been the best New York Rangers player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That being said, he’s coming off two consecutive losses to the Carolina Hurricanes, both of which were an opportunity to close out the series.

Heading into Game 6 on Thursday, his career postseason record now stands at 3-3 when trying to eliminate an opponent (1-2 in these playoffs). It’s a situation that the 28-year-old netminder just needs to be better at if the Blueshirts hope to win their first Stanley Cup since 1994.

“He’s kind of been our best player in every series, hasn’t he?” Ryan Lindgren told the NY Post. “He is just so dialed in, you look at the way he works, he’s just so focused and gives off an air of confidence.”

Related: It’s going to take everyone to beat the Hurricanes

Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin has to be better in clinching games

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-New York Rangers at Carolina Hurricanes
Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

To a man in the locker room, everyone has the utmost confidence in their No. 1 goalie. Why wouldn’t they? Ever since he stormed onto the scene for the 2019-20 season, he’s been excellent.

For his career, Shesterkin is 135-59-17 in just five seasons (only three full). The impressive backstop also has a career goals against average of 2.43 and a .921 save percentage. During the 2021-22 campaign, Shesterkin’s .935 save percentage and 2.07 goals against average earned him the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL.

That’s why it’s pretty stunning to see him struggle when he has a chance to clinch a series. As previously noted, Shesterkin has a .500 record in six attempts, but his goals against average is slightly higher than usual at 2.83 with an average .909 save percentage.

Let’s take a deeper dive into Shesterkin’s career playoff stats based on situation.

POSTSEASON STATSWLGAASV%
CAREER PLAYOFFS20162.420.927
FACING ELIMINATION632.560.925
CHANCE TO CLINCH332.830.909
ALL ELIMINATION752.760.918
Igor Shesterkin postseason stats by situation

Overall, Shesterkin is a solid 20-16 with a 2.42 goals against average and a solid .927 save percentage in 37 postseason appearances. Where he really shines is when facing elimination. In nine games with his back up against the wall, Igor is 6-3 with a 2.56 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.

It just doesn’t make much sense that his numbers go up with less pressure. However, all these stats aside, Shesterkin can put this conversation to bed by ending the Hurricanes on Thursday to avoid a Game 7 scenario.

“There’s an edge to him if we’re losing,” captain Jacob Trouba told the NY Post Wednesday. “But this morning, you could tell he was gearing up. He knows what’s on the line.”

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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