The New York Rangers are continuing to struggle with last night’s game which ended in a 7-3 loss for the Blueshirts. They remain one of the top teams in the NHL, but there’s no point in denying that things have made a quick turn for the worse over the last few weeks.
Igor Shesterkin has found himself right in the center of these problems. He hasn’t been the elite goaltender fans are used to watching, but at the same time, the defense has not been helping him out either. It’s a question of how much blame Shesterkin deserves for these struggles, and last night’s performance does not help his case.
Shesterkin probably should have been pulled against Toronto
Last night’s matchup began with the Rangers falling down by two early on in the first period. The first goal against was caused by a terrible defensive effort from both Blake Wheeler and Erik Gustafsson, but it’s hard to not look at Shesterkin for the second.
He was slightly screened by some players, but a soft wrist shot off the face-off has no reason to get past a world-class goaltender like Shesterkin.
Throughout the game, Shesterkin managed to allow six total goals and earned an abysmal .793 SV%. Not every goal against was his fault, but it was clear that something was off in between the pipes. Fans called for Shesterkin to be pulled in favor of Jonathan Quick, but HC Peter Laviolette opted to stick it out:
I think that some of it was on us and some it was some nice goals. I thought also through the course of the game he made some big saves… So, no, I didn’t think about it.”Peter Laviolette via Vince Mercogliano
It’s understandable why Laviolette chose to keep Shesterkin in net, but there should have been a point where enough was enough. A goaltender swap could have changed the entire momentum of the game, and the Rangers may have had a chance with Quick in net.
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At what point do the Rangers consider starting Quick?
With Shesterkin playing as poorly as he is, fans have begun to call for Laviolette to make Quick the new starting goaltender. Having concerns about Shesterkin’s down year is warranted, but it’s still way too early to make such a drastic decision.
Shesterkin has not been playing well recently, but neither has the Rangers’ defense. If the Rangers are playing well and only Shesterkin continues to struggle, then a possible swap could become a reasonable discussion. He may have lost his last three starts, and allowed 15 goals across that span, but that all transpired without any help from the Rangers’ defense.
Laviolette needs to give it some time before considering any potential swap to make Quick the new starter. Fans should be lucky that these struggles are happening this early in the season, as the Rangers still have plenty of time to work things out and get Shesterkin back on track.