In 2022-23, the story of the netminders is an interesting tale. While one of the NHL’s best was unable to find the success that had sustained his run to the Vezina trophy in the season prior, the other had a rough start in his new home and had to fight to get back to just being an option to play through the struggles he was enduring. It was an interesting story in the Crease of the Blueshirts and their showings on Broadway differed vastly.
There’s only really one place to start when we talk about the Rangers netminding and that is with Russian shot-stopper Igor Shesterkin. This was not the dominance of Igor that we saw last year as he was the best netminder in NHL history for all of a season until the Boston Bruins decided in 2022-23, they wanted new history books and rewrote them. But Igor was not his dominant self of seasons past.
He looked human and dare I say even subpar at times. It became clear that this was even taking a toll on Shesterkin mentally. However, the reigning Vezina trophy winner has shown he is still more than capable as he is starting to bounce back from a tough spell after the all-star break proving that he is still one of the elite netminders in the National Hockey League.
His 2.48 goals-against average is nothing to write home about. His .916 isn’t special but it is enough to show that the Russian means business. He’s still more than capable of stealing games that the Rangers have no business winning and in the postseason that is a major part of cup winners. Hot goaltenders can win you the cup outright, so hopefully, Igor can stay hot and bring the cup home.
This was a weird season for the Rangers’ backup netminder. After a slow start where it looked like he was going to be a non-option for the Blueshirts for this season, Jaroslav Halak really performed well after his awful start to the season and became one of the better backups around the league. He couldn’t keep up with Igor but he was a more than serviceable second choice if Igor needed the night off.
For the Blueshirts, netminding was a concern behind the reigning Vezina trophy winner, and the Bratislava, Slovakia native came in and did a really good job in the end despite his shakey start to his Rangers tenure. He’s proven he can play a part for the Rangers if he is needed without costing the team the game, but he’s also clearly the second-choice netminder at this moment in time behind Shesterkin.
Halak had 2.72 goals against average and a .903 save percentage. Both of those stats are usable but not great. We’re getting to the situation where if Halak does that in the playoffs he will not be an option for the Blueshirts and will likely just get a good view of the Rangers’ success from the bench. We know Shesterkin is going to be the Rangers starter for the most part anyway so it just becomes if they need to turn to Halak, will he keep them alive?