Igor Shesterkin was highlighted as the best goaltender in hockey last season.
While it may be difficult to expect an encore performance from last year’s Vezina winner, the Russian goaltender is solely focused on putting his team in position to get further than last year’s Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
“Out team only has one goal and that’s winning the Stanley Cup. I believe that we’re fully capable of that. Everybody wants to put in the work. Everbody can put in the work and I think we can do it.” Shesterkin said through his interpreter Saturday.
In 52 starts last season, Shesterkin was 36-13-4 with a league-high in goals against average (2.07) and save percentage (.935%). The former fourth round selection in 2014 was just as good in the playoffs though with a .929 save percentage and 10-9 record.
While it’s hard for any analyst or player to find something negative off of an excellent season like Shesterkin had, the goaltender is still focused on improving his game.
“I definitely try to focus on the mistakes of the previous season in the offseason and try to work on those things.” Shesterkin later added “In terms of mentality, if there’s like a series of disappointments, definitely that’s not something I should be focusing on. You should be thinking about the good aspects of what had been done in the previous seasons and fix your mistakes.”
It’s hard to find a point of weakness in Igor’s game. The netminder has been an important part in changing the Rangers from a rebuilding organization to a title contender.
At just 26-years-old, Shesterkin isn’t worried about putting more onus on himself, telling reporters Saturday that “everything depends only on me.”
What are the main pieces that the Rangers’ top goaltender is working on? In the typical Shesterkin fashion and said through his interpreter “Like I said in previous years, you’ll see.”
With as dominant a goaltender as the Rangers have, their championship level aspirations ride on the shoulders of Igor Shesterkin. The Russian-born player is more than up to the task in year four.
Rangers Practice Notes
- If you’re questioning why Gerard Gallant kept the kid line together to start camp, you won’t need to anymore. Day three was dominated by the Lafreniere-Chytil-Kakko trio with the line accounting for two goals, multiple fast break opportunities, and a penalty forced. Against Trocheck-Panarin-Kravtsov, the three young bucks completely dominated. This will be a tough line to gameplan against once the season starts.
- While Blais is competing for a role on the first line, Zibanejad and Kreider both had excellent plays against Shesterkin on 2-on-1s. It really may not matter who is playing with the top pair on the first and second lines as long as the top guys produce as they should.
- It was a solid day for the goalies all around outside of Shesterkin. The Vezina winner had arguably his best day of camp on Saturday, while Louis Domingue had a solid performance as well in the first scrimmage. The newly acquired goaltender made numerous quick saves and has looked solid throughout camp.
- The Rangers also announced that Sam Alfano, Maxim Barbashev, Jayden Grubbe and Bryce McConnell-Barker have been returned to their respective junior teams. McConnell-Barker and Barbashev are 2022 draft selections from the Blueshirts while Grubbe was a third round selection from 2021.