With the 24 team playoff format accepted, it’s time to look at what the Rangers will do once their best-of-5 series against the Carolina Hurricanes comes.
One of the biggest debates there has been is whether 38-year-old Henrik Lundqvist or youngster Igor Shesterkin will start in goal for the New York Rangers. The King, as Henrik Lundqvist is called, is arguably the best goaltender in Rangers history. But, Lundqvist is definitely regressing, whereas Igor is flourishing.
Shesterkin, who was a 4th round pick, took New York by storm, posting a 10-2-0 record in his first 12 games. Among those wins were four 40-save games. Shesterkin has not only been lights out in the NHL, but also went 17-4-3 with three shutouts and a 1.90 goals against average with the Hartford Wolf Pack. He seems like the clear-cut starter, even with the small sample size here in the NHL.
However, it must be noted that future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist has a lot of playoff experience. He has played in 128 playoff games, and has multiple stints in the Eastern Conference Finals and a stint in the Stanley Cup Final. On top of that, The King’s career record against the Hurricanes in phenomenal – he boasts a 33-12-1 career record versus Carolina, and is 3-0-0 against them this year. Now, whether or not Hank’s playoff experience is enough to overlook his 3-5-1 record in his last 9 starts is the big question.
Henrik Lundqvist has a fantastic resume, which includes a Vezina Trophy and an Olympic gold medal. However, he still doesn’t have a Stanley Cup. Many fans want to see him win one before his career is over – he deserves it. But I don’t think that fact will determine who starts.
The Rangers, who are in the midst of finishing a rebuild, may not have made the playoffs had the 82-game season finished. The Rangers have a chance to do what the St. Louis Blues did last year. New York is filled with talent, and it is very possible that they make a big push for the Cup.
In order for that to happen, I think it’s time the Rangers move on from Lundqvist, and give Shesterkin the starting role. Not only does he give the team a better chance to win, but it also gives him early playoff experience for next year and the years to come.
Photo Credit: NHL.com