That is not any longer a premise upon which the Rangers can rely.
Shesterkin often is the front-runner for the Vezina trophy for the league’s best goalie within the regular season, recording a 2.07 goals against average and .935 save percentage, each tops amongst goalies with greater than 10 starts. But within the two playoff games in Pittsburgh — the primary playoff games of his profession in front of hostile fans — he allowed 10 goals on 45 shots over three periods.
The Pittsburgh fans rode him hard in each games, taunting him with chants of “Eeee-gor. Eeee-gor.”
Shesterkin just isn’t the direct reason behind the Rangers’ sudden decline, but he has not been nearly as dominant as he was within the regular season, and has been unable to bail his teammates out, as he did so often for months.
Gallant pulled Shesterkin from each losses in Pittsburgh, which doesn’t give Rangers fans a comforting feeling as they give the impression of being ahead. The backup, Alexandar Georgiev, played the identical variety of periods (three) as Shesterkin within the two games in Pittsburgh and allowed only two goals on 31 shots.
But Gallant eliminated the potential for a goalie controversy by declaring that Shesterkin could be back within the crease on Wednesday. His defense for that call required only five words.
“Best goalie within the league,” Gallant said.
He also emphasized that three of the goals on Monday were tipped in, relieving a few of the blame from Shesterkin. But regardless of what number of pucks are tipped into the online, or how often goalies are screened and unable to see the incoming shot, they detest being scored upon, often taking it personally, and Shesterkin seemed rattled.
After the Penguins’ sixth goal, a redirected shot that Jeff Carter deflected down between the pads, Shesterkin skated out of the goal mouth to his left in frustration, his head tilted back as if he were rolling his eyes skyward over the onslaught. It was the fifth goal he had allowed within the period.