Igor “The Great”
Shersterkin is having a career year that is pacing to be a top 10 goaltending season since the league returned to play for the 2005-06 season. He is the clear front runner for the Vezina Trophy as the leagues top goalie and possibly the Hart Trophy as MVP as well. He has led the way for a New York Rangers team that has grown by leaps and bounds as it has emerged from the rebuild that began at the 2018 trade deadline.
It should be understood that some regression will be seen from a career high save percentage that only recently dipped below .940%. How the Rangers respond when his save percentage hovers more regularly around the .920% mark remains to be seen. However the larger questions have little to do with talent, but instead focus on Shesterkins durability and endurance moving forward.
It’s Igor, why worry?
Shesterkin’s 39 appearances this season are already a career high in the NHL. While in the KHL he has played as many as 44 games in a season, including playoffs. Even with all of the time off worked into this season, is a starter’s workload in the NHL catching up to Shesterkin?
Directly following his admission of being tired after a 45 save win versus the Winnipeg Jets, Shesterkin turned in his two worst performances of the season. This may simply be coincidence, but it is something the organization needs to keep a close eye on. Additionally, the team should be concerned with the recognition that tired players are more prone to injury.
This is of particular concern for a goaltender who has missed 29 potential starts over the past two and a half seasons. During that span, the Rangers have played 147 games, with Shesterkin being injured for nearly 20% of them. Worse, is that groin injuries, of which he has had three while with the Rangers, are prone to reoccurring.
None of this is to say that Shesterkin will break down or injure himself, but it is something to be cautious of. The Rangers have 23 games remaining before the playoffs and Shesterkin will need as much rest as can be given. However, with the goaltending options at his disposal, how much rest can Coach Gerard Gallant realistically give him?