Rangers Recall: Igor Shesterkin and Will Cuylle come up big
The New York Rangers are heating up and once again climbing to the top of the League standings. After taking down the red-hot Calgary Flames on Monday night at the Garden, they move to third overall with 71 points (two points behind the Boston Bruins, and five back of the Vancouver Canucks).
Good defense has been the key to the Blueshirts resurgence starting with a 7-2 drubbing of the Ottawa Senators right before All-Star Weekend. They followed that with four more wins after the festivities in Toronto, and have outscored their opponents 18 to 7 during this five-game winning streak.
Jonathan Quick was in net for the first three wins, allowing Igor Shesterkin a break after competing in the All-Star Game. That time allowed for the Blueshirts’ top goalie to get back to basics with coach Benoit Allaire, and it seems to be paying dividends.
Let’s look at the top takeaways from the Rangers shutout of the Flames.
Rangers Recall: Shesterkin the story of the night
It all basically starts and ends with Shesterkin in goal for why the Rangers were able to end Calgary’s four-game winning streak and extend their own.
As sharp as he’s ever been this season, Igor was tracking the puck like a lion stalks its prey on the plains of the Serengeti. Throughout the contest, his movements were precise and his reaction time explosive in earning a 30-save shutout performance, Shesterkin’s first of the year.
“Honestly, I felt great all night,” said Shesterkin. “The guys did a great job. If I get a shutout I’m happy, but the most important thing is wins.”
In his last two games, Shesterkin is 2-0-0 with an astounding .951 save percentage and a 1.47 goals against average.
If Shesterkin is indeed back to being on top of his game, the Rangers will likely be even more aggressive at the Mar. 8th trade deadline. New York has nine games leading up to that date.
One player that’s been a consistent contributor all season has been rookie Will Cuylle. His line centered by Jonny Brodzinski and right wing Kaapo Kakko were integral to the Rangers 2-0 victory over the Flames, scoring the decisive goal.
Just past the midway point of the second period, Brodzinski made a good defensive play at his own blue-line springing Kakko up ice. The Finnish winger took the puck all the way to net and was stopped by Jacob Markstrom, who was unable to cover it before Cuylle pounced on it.
“We’re all on the same page,” Cuylle noted of his line. “We’re just trying to build more and more every game.”
This season, Cuylle has scored nine goals and added seven assists for 16 points in 53 games. The 22-year-old continues to impress and has earned the appreciation of his captain, Jacob Trouba.
“He’s filled a role that the team needed and has done a good job,” Trouba praised. “Not just with the hits, but he provides offense as well. He plays hard and will mix it up. He’s a fun player to watch in my opinion.”