Igor Shesterkin posted his second shutout of the season last night having making 26 saves against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
The Wolf Pack played a strong defensive game, holding the Phantoms to one shot over the game’s first 16-and-a-half minutes and generally doing a great job of forcing shots from the perimeter. When there were testy moments, though, Shesterkin was immaculate.
This is usually where I try my best to write something interesting or (hopefully) informative, but there’s not much left to really discuss, to be blunt. Shesterkin is posting video game numbers (.936 save percentage) and the sample has increased to 17 games. There was a lot of talk during the summer and preseason about his adjustment to rink size, stylistic differences in the type of hockey played in North America, a language barrier, and so on.
They were fair talking points to watch for, but any further discussion of them as serious matters of interest would be insulting to the intelligence of any conscious being. There are most definitely nuances to his game that Hartford Goaltending Coach Eric Raymond and he are working hard at improving every day, but in the most general sense there’s really no reason for Shesterkin to be in the AHL save for roster “issues,” per se. Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev are being quite uncooperative by playing so incredibly well and leaving Shesterkin no immediate window of opportunity. How dare they!
His AHL stay isn’t going to hurt his development, one wouldn’t anticipate, but he’s proven everything he’s needed to. He’s effectively keeping fit and staying sharp in a hockey waiting room while the Rangers try to figure out when and how they want to solve this once and for all. It’s fair to wonder if Shesterkin will no longer feel challenged eventually. He’s been very understanding and congenial, but everyone has a limit.
Shesterkin is a self-motivator, but the Hartford coaching staff will also have to be creative in finding ways to challenge him, whether that’s during games or in practice. Everyone knows he’s ready for the NHL. It’s just a matter of waiting his turn.
In the meantime, perhaps he can work on improving his wrist shot.