3 reasons why the NY Rangers are still the Eastern Conference’s hottest team as NHL playoff race intensifies

Despite last night’s loss, the NY Rangers still won a pair of games over the weekend, and they may be the East’s hottest team in the NHL playoff race.

New York Islanders v New York Rangers
New York Islanders v New York Rangers / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Opponents can’t win if they can’t score against Igor Shesterkin

It is completely okay to admit that Igor Shesterkin had a down year for a while, despite the former Vezina winner’s 0.912 save percentage, 2.59 GAA, three shutouts, and 0.622 quality starts percentage through March 17th. Overall, these are more than solid numbers, and they indicate Shesterkin has been one of the better goaltenders all season. 

But that hasn’t always been the case, as from mid-October through February 9th, Shesterkin only had an 0.899 save percentage, a 2.86 GAA, and zero shutouts. There is no other way to say it except that he had a down season until right after the All-Star Break, but that trend has, for the most part, changed. 

From February 12th to March 17th, Shesterkin has been one of the NHL’s premier goaltenders once more, posting all three shutouts in that span to go with a 1.84 GAA and a 0.944 save percentage. 

In eight of those games, he allowed two or fewer goals. Shesterkin also had some bad games in that span, most notably during the Rangers thrilling win against the New York Islanders in the Stadium Series and in a recent loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Overall, Shesterkin looks like he’s returned to being an elite talent in the crease. And if the trend doesn’t slow down over the final month of 2023-24, he will keep the Rangers operating as the Eastern Conference’s hottest team.