When this series was being played in New Jersey, Igor Shesterkin was able to get the better of Vitek Vanacek. Igor gave up just two goals away from the Garden and Vanacek was the backstopper for both of the Devils’ 5-1 losses on home ice. After that, Lindy Ruff and his coaching staff opted to make a change in the crease for the Devils and since then, the Blueshirts have been stumped with what to do moving forward.
Akira Schmid has come in and allowed just 2 goals in more than six periods of hockey. If you are allowing just one goal a game in the playoffs, you are going to go far and the Rangers have not had an answer for the persistent progress of the Swiss netminder. As Schmid continues to get himself situated in this series, he is going to cause more issues for the Ranger forwards if they do not figure out a way to get the puck past him.
This should not be seen as a slight at Igor. Shesterkin has been fantastic in this series and he had something like a .983 save percentage at even strength before the start of game four. I’m sorry that is not more up-to-date, I didn’t exactly want to go and look at how much worse everything got after such an ugly game. Igor has not been the issue the Rangers have come up empty-handed on home ice.
However, this has not been the Igor we saw last year. We know Shesterkin has this ability to put the Rangers on his back and carry the team past an opponent. New Jersey has found a goalie that is going to try and do that for them and if the Rangers’ elite goalie can find that next gear to go back to being the most dominant goalie in the league, the Rangers are going to be able to stay in this series while making it a low scoring affair.