Going into the playoffs, all three of the Rangers goalies have a legitimate argument about why they should get the start in Game One of the series against the Hurricanes. In a traditional playoffs, a team typically uses one goalie in every game they play. But, with this not being a traditional playoffs, and the Rangers goalie situation being anything but normal, who knows what coach David Quinn will decide. As of right now, the only thing us Rangers fans can do is guess what Coach Quinn will decide, so, let’s do just that and breakdown the arguments for all three goalies.
Henrik Lundqvist: A first ballot hall-of-famer, and arguably the best goalie in Rangers history, Hank is potentially in his final season with the team. With the two young studs pushing him, as well as his massive cap hit, who knows what Hank’s future with the Rangers holds. What we do know is that Lundqvist has been one of the most clutch goaltenders of his generation. Earning the nickname “Mr. Game 7” among the Ranger faithful, Lundqvist, boasts an impressive 6-2 record in Game 7s with a ridiculous .958 save percentage in such games. But, in all honesty, Hank is not the same goalie that he was just 3 years ago when the Rangers last made the playoffs. Now 38 years old, Lundqvist has been overshadowed by the success of his younger counterparts. But, he is “The King” for a reason. Henrik has dominated the Hurricanes over his career. And during the span of his career, I am not sure there is any other goalie in the world that you would want in net in a big game more than Lundqvist. While he is not the same goalie that he once was, I don’t think one Ranger fan will complain if Henrik gets the start in the all-important game one.
Alexandar Georgiev: For the last 3 seasons, Georgiev has been about as solid of a backup as they come in the NHL. With a career .913 save percentage, Georgiev has been “Mr. Reliable” when Lundqvist has needed a night off over the last three years. This season trade rumors swirled around Georgiev’s name. And he showed why. At times, Georgiev was the Ranger’s best goalie, and it seemed all but certain that he was going to have a new home after the February 24 trade deadline. But, John Davidson elected to keep his young goaltender and keep the 3 goalie rotation going. For the most part, it has paid off. At the time of the shutdown, Georgiev showcased a 17-14-2 record, with a .910 save percentage, and 2 shutouts. These stats are pretty average for a starter, but well above average for a backup, the role that Georgiev has flourished in throughout his career. Like Lundqvist, his future with the organization remains up in the air, but at least for the foreseeable future, he will be heavily involved in the goalie rotation.
Igor Shesterkin: As the likely heir to King Henrik’s throne, “The Czar” showed hockey fans everywhere why the Rangers were so high on him. Shesterkin just does not seem to ever lose. In his first year in North America, Shesterkin spent 24 games in the AHL. He dominated. He went 17-4-3 with a .934 save percentage, and a GAA of 1.90. For those of you who might not be aware. All three of those stats are absolutely ridiculous. He all but forced the Rangers to call him up, and when he arrived in New York, the success continued. In his 12 starts he went 10-2 with a .932 save percentage. Behind one of the league’s worst defenses, Igor was unreal. He is the future of the organization, and will be at the forefront of the playoff runs for the future. But, it’s possible that now isn’t the time for him to take over. Shesterkin has a severe lack of experience, and while it’s clear that he is the future of the team, it might not be his time just yet.
Personally, I think the choice for game one is tough. I think as camp progresses it will become more and more clear. But, with about three weeks until puck drop, and just one day into camp, I think that any of the three can easily win the job. But, with what he has done this year, Igor Shesterkin deserves to be the starter. If Igor plays like he did in the regular season, the league will be on notice. Shesterkin was one of the hottest goalies in the league at the time of the stoppage, and if there is one thing that every hockey fan knows, a hot goaltender wins playoff games.