Igor Shesterkin again extra drive

Igor Shesterkin again extra drive

The frontman of the Russian goalkeeping squad in the NHL, Igor Shesterkin, who had a surprisingly modest season for himself, finally gave a match corresponding to his highest status. In a meeting with the Calgary Flames, the New York Rangers goalkeeper did not allow a single goal for the first time in the current regular season, stopping three dozen shots, including several very difficult ones, and brought his team a victory - 2:0.

In the North American career of Igor Shesterkin, this “dry” match was already the 12th. That is, formally not such a significant event, especially considering what this still short career was like (it started at the end of the last decade). Shesterkin quickly established himself among the goaltending elite, in 2022 he received the Vezina Trophy for the best player in the NHL in his role and earned a reputation as the frontman of the brightest domestic goalie squad in the league.

But no, the match against Calgary, of course, was still special for him, given the circumstances. The fact is that the current season for Shesterkin was completely different from what he wanted. To understand how it developed, just look at the statistics. In the ranking of the strongest goalies in the NHL according to two main indicators, he is not even close to the leaders. In terms of the number of goals conceded on average per game, Shesterkin is not in the top 20 with his 2.78 goals (despite the fact that a truly cool figure is something close to two). In terms of percentage of reflected shots (90.2%) - even in the top 30.

The Rangers are currently leading their Metropolitan Division, close to the top of the league standings.

But the contribution to his successes from Shesterkin, whose invitation to the recent All-Star Weekend in Toronto looked, strictly speaking, solely as a tribute to his previous merits, was small. The excellent attack of the New Yorkers has much more of it, and perhaps even the 38-year-old goalkeeper Jonathan Quick, who was invited to the club last summer to play the role of the classic “number two” - sometimes giving rest to the undisputed “number one.” But it got to the point where the status of the “replacement” veteran increased sharply and deservedly. Before the match against Calgary, the Rangers had only two meetings in the current championship in which he did not allow a single goal - in the fall against the Edmonton Oilers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. And in both cases, he had Quick in goal, about whom, when he defended them in three meetings at the turn of January and February and did everything well, they even started talking in the spirit that maybe he would even send Shesterkin to the bench. Moreover, the coach of the New York team, Peter Laviolette, did not hide the fact that for some reason he forced the Russian to “extra” work with the club’s goalkeeper coach. Usually such measures mean something not very good for the player.

But it seems that the worries of those who were worried about Igor Shesterkin turned out to be in vain. The Russian star returned to the Rangers goal on Friday in the match with the Chicago Blackhawks. It may not have been great for Shesterkin, but in any case it was not a failure: the New Yorkers defeated their opponents - 4:3 in overtime. But the next match was amazing.

A “dry” match is different from a “dry” match. This one was won by the Rangers thanks in large part to the goalkeeper.

The load that fell on Igor Shesterkin was enormous. 30 shots on target is a lot. But what is important here is not so much their quantity as their quality. Among these three dozen shots, at least four - Nazem Kadri, Connor Zary, Rasmus Andersson and Blake Coleman - were in the category of those that could safely be described as lethal. Shesterkin handled them all convincingly, sometimes combining good positioning with elements of acrobatics.

Calgary goalkeeper Jacob Markström, by the way, was also reliable in this match. But the New Yorkers managed to break through once, thanks to the assertiveness of Kaapo Kakko and Will Kaille, who managed to finish off. In the end, Markström left the goal, giving way to the sixth field player. And this circumstance gave Shesterkin a chance to decorate his feat with another achievement: a minute before the siren, he almost hit the target with his own throw, slightly missing. However, soon Jimmy Vesey did what the goalkeeper failed to do.

Alexey Dospehov

Source link