There’s nothing good that comes about a COVID outbreak, including one that is plaguing the NHL and has prompted the league to shut down travel between Canada and the United States until after Christmas.
In total, 12 additional games between Monday and Thursday have been postponed, including the New York Rangers matchup against the Montreal Canadiens that was supposed to go down on Wednesday night.
Instead, the Rangers are looking at a break that will extend past the Christmas break. They aren’t scheduled to take the ice again until Dec. 27 against the Detroit Red Wings, which creates a 10-day break from their previous game on Dec. 17 — a 3-2 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.
It doesn’t come at the worst time for a team that had lost three of its previous four games and four of its last six after a barnstorming 17-4-3 start to the 2021-22 season.
Upon their return to action, the Rangers will get their foundational backstop back in the crease as goaltender Igor Shesterkin was activated off injured reserve over the weekend.
The 25-year-old Russian netminder had missed the Rangers’ previous eight games due to a groin injury and was projected to be back between the pipes for Wednesday against the Canadiens. In his absence, the Blueshirts went 4-4 without him despite backup Alexandar Georgiev posting an impressive 1.71 goals-against average during that stretch.
The return of Shesterkin at least provides the promise of the steady netminding helping to restore the Rangers’ high-flying play of the first two months of the season.
In 18 games this season, Shesterkin is 13-3-2 with a sterling .937 save percentage and a 2.05 goals-against average.
He had been red-hot in the nine games before his injury, which has temporarily derailed an All-Star campaign. Shesterkin went 8-1-0 with a .945 save percentage with just 14 goals against.