With the talk of the 24 team playoff format being ratified and the NHL taking baby steps to concluding the 2019-2020 season the New York Rangers find themselves in the playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes. Since the Blueshirts are slated to play the ‘Canes it has prompted a lot of talk about the Rangers letting Henrik Lundqvist have one more run in the postseason against a team he’s owned throughout his career.
The Rangers have shown all year that even though he’s been a franchise cornerstone, it’s no longer Lundqvist’s team or his net. This is not easy for me to say because I have been a huge fan of his for his entire career. Since Igor Shesterkin has come to town however, he has shown he can be more than reliable and able to not only win but steal games that the Rangers have no business winning. The Rangers should not change what has worked for them to get them into the playoff push and that would slate Shesterkin as the starter and Lundqvist as the backup.
“Since Igor Shesterkin has come to town however, he has shown he can be more than reliable and able to not only win but steal games”
If you’ve listened to the 15 on Broadway: Talking Blueshirts podcast I have gone back and forth with Chris saying that this is no longer Lundqvist’s team. Don’t get me wrong he is still more than a serviceable NHL goaltender and could be a starter for another team or finish his career out in NY as Shesterkin’s number two. With his playoff experience and resume he would be a great mentor to Shesterkin for one or two more years to continue to help Shesterkin’s progression and development.
Perhaps the biggest reason you do not start the playoffs with Lundqvist as your number one is because he has not seen any game action since being torched by the Philadelphia Flyers at MSG on March 1st. The playoffs will not realistically until at the earliest the beginning of August. You are talking about a rest time of nearly four months before seeing any live game action. Lundqvist, throughout his career has been a notoriously slow starter and if you are asking him to go in virtually cold after a layoff longer than a typical offseason then you are just begging for trouble. Even though Lundqvist is a Hall of Fame talent and one of the best goalies of his generation, you cannot possibly expect him to come in after that kind of break and expect him to play up to his career level.
The Rangers need to stick with what got them to the dance and that is by riding with the hot hand in Shesterkin. Even with the break the Rangers stated during the season that he is now their guy and they need to stick with him. If he falters you can always turn back to Lundqvist and if he gets hot then you ride him until the end. Util then it has got to be Igor Shesterkin’s net.