When you are one of the most dominant athletes in New York City, even the smallest struggle will be highlighted. The New York Rangers already went through that with Henrik Lundqvist just a decade ago.
Igor Shesterkin may not be Lundqvist in a lot of ways, but the dominance he has had over the last few seasons has made him one of the best athletes in New York to date.
Which makes his recent struggles even more alarming.
It’s crazy to think about a team, after just concluding a 10-game point streak and not having lost in over a month, would have something considerable to worry about. Yet throughout the Rangers’ recent run of success, an underlying truth has been brought forth.
Since the all-star break, Igor Shesterkin has not played as well as the reigning Vezina winner has been known to do. His save percentage has been under .900 in each of his last five starts and 10 of his last 17. In New York’s 4-1 loss to Winnipeg on Monday night, Shesterkin saved just 17 of 21 shots and put the offense behind the 8-ball for the third straight game.
If there was concern from the coaching staff about his goaltender though, Gerard Gallant wasn’t going to bring it public.
“I thought he (Shesterkin) was fine. I didn’t see any issue with the goals he gave up.” Gerard Gallant said after the game. “It’s the way it goes some nights. Their guy had a lot of puck luck, our guy didn’t tonight.”
Monday’s loss, of course, could be an aberration for the Rangers’ all-star goaltender. New York outshot Winnipeg by a 51-21 margin but failed to get anything past the Jets’ own Vezina-winning goalie. The issue though comes from recent play from Shesterkin where, even when the offense is producing a lot of points, the Rangers are also giving up some easy chances as well.
In fact, during the Rangers’ 10-game point streak, New York averaged 4.6 goals per game, easily tops across the entire hockey landscape.
The issue? The Blueshirts have given up an average of close to three goals a game during that same stretch.
Igor Shesterkin is a dominant player and one of the best goaltenders in all of hockey. Like any top player, rough patches are going to happen throughout a career. The “glass-half-full” idea is that even with Igor’s struggles, the Rangers have been able to win. The downside to that is their goaltender’s numbers have gotten worse and it’s stepped in the way of the Rangers potentially staying in the thick of potentially having home ice in the first round of the playoffs.
As the home-stretch run continues, the Rangers need their top players to play like the superstars that they are. Most of the offense has done so in the last month.
Their top goaltender, however, hasn’t.