Igor Shesterkin has come of age. At the age of 26, he is the perfect age to show his fans that he is ready. Ready to battle the two-time Stanley Cup champs. Ready to battle Andrei Vasilevskiy, who he surely respects.
In what seems impossible, Vasilevskiy is just 27. He already has a Vezina and Conn Smythe on his resume and now the Rangers goaltender is searching for those same trophies. Shesterkin spent some of his youth becoming the best goaltender in the KHL,
Shesterkin is up for the Vezina and Hart this year. He’s on my ballot for both of those awards. One of the main reasons is why Mark Messier, most writers, and fans have stated. The Rangers can’t keep relying on Shesterkin like this. And yet, here we are.
In the playoffs, Shesterkin has a slightly higher GSAA compared to Vasilevskiy. He has faced 143 more shots, 131 more saves and his .928 save percentage isn’t as good as his counterpart, but it’s close enough where you can say, he’s been better because he’s faced more shots, had to make more saves. If you look on the website money puck, the numbers are so close. This is truly the best goalie matchup on paper that we’ve seen in a very long time.
The Rangers will once again rely on Shesterkin to get them over the hump. Tampa has the experience; the fortitude and they are the clear favorites and yet Shesterkin can make this a close series and that’s what I’m expecting.
Shesterkin loves the fans and he loves the chants. He apologized during last series for some goals that he gave up. Who does that? He wants to do his job. He’s very workman-like. Vasilevskiy will be a stone wall as well. So, what will be the difference?
Shesterkin winning these elimination games has set the groundwork for him to win another. This time it could be a Game Seven at MSG and if that happens, that would be something. The NHL will market the hell out of the Western Conference Final for good reason. Connor McDavid vs. Nathan MacKinnon. However, this series will draw the best ratings. Fans have always been fascinated with goaltending and the fact that Tampa is trying to three-peat adds to it.
If the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup, Shesterkin will be the reason why, with a little help from his teammates.