July 22, 2020

There’s no advantage for the Rangers to announce who their starting goalie for the playoffs will be

Igor Shesterkin getting ready (USATSI)

The New York Rangers held another practice today before heading off to their hub city in Toronto. One question that has been asked almost on a daily basis by reporters is, “who is your starting goaltender?”

David Quinn has diplomatically dodged that question. Here’s the main reason why.

There’s no advantage to the Rangers in naming their starting goaltender now.

So why not just say who it is? Almost everyone knows it will be Igor Shesterkin, right? The fact that you have to ask is the reason why Quinn shouldn’t reveal it.

What tactical advantage does he gain by letting the Carolina Hurricanes know which goalie to prepare for? The answer is absolutely none. That’s because he has three legit starters. One of them is a young phenom in Igor Shesterkin, the other a surefire Hall of Famer in Henrik Lundqvist, and a solid backstop in Alexandar Georgiev.

The playoffs are a war of attrition and psychological games

Igor Shesterkin is ready for phase 3 (Getty Images)

Coming into this series against the Carolina Hurricanes, both sides have played each other four times and know each other pretty well. However in those four games, the Canes faced Henrik Lundqvist three times and Igor Shesterkin once. The results were the same every time…a Rangers win.

What’s the difference in who starts than you ask? The answer is simple, both goalies can stop the puck but each brings a different advantage that Carolina would need to prepare for.

Henrik Lundqvist brings a big game reputation and challenges shooters to beat him on the first shot. Hank loves to play deep in his crease in order to use his quick reflexes to make saves on deflections and rebounds.

Igor Shesterkin is extremely aggressive and plays with so much confidence you forget he is a rookie. He also changes the way the team plays in front of him because he can handle the puck as well as any goalie I’ve seen since Martin Brodeur. He basically becomes an extra defenseman on the ice making the team’s transition game that much better.

Keep your opponent guessing

For all I know, Quinn could announce his starter tomorrow. If I were in the head coach’s shoes, I would wait till game time to make the call. There is no rule that states Quinn has to name a starter before he is required to hand in his lineup card to the referees before game one.

So let the gamesmanship begin. These are the playoffs and you take any advantage you can find, no matter how little it is…or is it?

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