Igor’s Improved Play Has The Rangers Playing Well

The New York Rangers have started to play like one of the best teams in hockey since the All-Star break and have now won five straight games. 

While the Rangers have played well for most of the season, the recently improved play of Igor Shesterkin has put the Rangers in a different position than they’ve been all season.

With their recent play, the Rangers have been the team that everyone expected them to be, a roster that can and frankly, should win the Stanley Cup. Shesterkin earned a shutout against the Calgary Flames in the Rangers’ recent win, going home with a 2-0 win. 

Jonathan Quick has handled goalkeeper duties at times, but Shesterkin is the main goalie. If the Rangers want to win in the playoffs and eventually crown themselves as the Stanley Cup champions, Shesterkin has to take those duties full-time and be who he used to be. 

Jacob Trouba spoke about his shutout, saying the following, according to The Athletic.

“Everybody knew he was going to get back to how he plays,” captain Jacob Trouba said after his team’s fifth consecutive win. “Every player goes through slumps. I think it’s just more noticeable when it’s the goalie and everybody’s eyes see it more. … He took that time to reset, and he was great tonight.”

The confidence from Trouba and the rest of the Rangers should only help the former 2021-22 Vezina Trophy winner.

New York’s next stretch won’t get any easier, so Shesterkin has to be at his best. Within the next two weeks, the Rangers brace for a challenging lineup of games against the Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils, and Philadelphia Flyers. 

With the team leading the Metropolitan Division with 71 points, they have to continue playing this way to keep that spot. They’re also just a mere two points behind the Boston Bruins for the top spot in the Eastern Conference, something they’re striving for.

Even Shesterkin has realized his improved play, saying the following, according to The Athletic.

“I hope everything is working for me right now,” Shesterkin reflected post-game. “Have fun, stop the puck.”

The Rangers Top Threats

The Eastern Conference is tough, with multiple contending teams and veteran rosters that can beat anyone on any given night. 

The Bruins, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Carolina Hurricanes are all teams that have been in this position before. Not only do they have talent, but they’ve also been in a playoff setting before and will make the most of their opportunities.

Trouba understands that, and his mindset shows that they aren’t content with just winning games. He had the following to say about the team’s win against the Chicago Blackhawks, according to the New York Post.

“We didn’t feel great after the Chicago game,” Jacob Trouba said of Friday’s 4-3 overtime victory in Chicago after frittering away a two-goal lead in the final 6:03 of regulation. “You get two points, and you never take winning for granted in this league, but we wanted to come out and play a really solid game.”

Trouba’s attitude proves that this is a different Rangers team than the past. His mindset could help feed the rest of the roster with energy.

For Shesterkin, he’s 21-12-1 with a 2.78 goals allowed per game average. He has just a .902% save percentage, which hasn’t been good enough. However, the improvements recently leave more to be desired.

“I thought Shesty played a heck of a game for us, especially when there was not a lot of work in the first and then you’re relied on more in the second and then the third they’re pushing in a 1-0 game,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “I thought he was really good.”

If the New York Rangers want to be the team that they’re looking to be, Shesterkin needs to continue playing how he has.

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