Shesterkin’s Star Season culminates with the Vezina Cup

Igor Shesterkin performed in 73 common season and playoff video games in the course of the 2021–22 season. But on Tuesday evening, the Rangers goalkeeper recalled a second that occurred earlier than the primary of 102 common season and Rangers playoffs this season, and in a recreation he did not play.

“In the first pre-season game against the Islanders (on September 26), I didn’t play,” recalled Shesterkin. “A little boy showed me a photo with myself (which said) ‘future Vezina Cup winner.’ … I thought, ‘why not? We have a good team for that.'”

Shesterkin formally reworked a “future Vezina Cup winner” to a “Vezina Cup winner” on Tuesday, as he turned the sixth goalscorer in Rangers historical past to obtain the award.

Shesterkin’s self-confidence and self-confidence are traits which have helped him turn out to be an impressive goalkeeper, they usually had been proven many occasions all through the 2021-22 season. But it is exhausting to think about that even Shesterkin thought on that September day in the course of the first pre-season recreation that he would put up a quantity like he did this season.

The 0.935 SV% Shesterkin is the third-best single season mark in NHL historical past by a goalkeeper who has performed at the very least 50 video games, trailing solely Tim Thomas (.938) and Dominik Hasek (.937). It was additionally the most effective share of saves in a season in Rangers historical past, breaking the earlier file of 0.930 set by Shesterkin’s childhood idol, Henrik Lundqvist, in the course of the Vezina Trophy-winning season a decade in the past. Shesterkin’s GAA 2.07 this season can be the league’s finest, and he has restricted his opponents to 2 objectives or much less in 32 of his 52 appearances.

Statistics apart, Shesterkin’s consistency this season offers many unforgettable moments that shall be remembered by his teammates, coaches and followers for years to come back. It is unattainable to single out only one second that Shesterkin has because the “defining moment” for his season; however quite a set of moments that show why Shesterkin is the rightful winner of the Vezina Trophy and a worthy finalist for the Hart Trophy.

Which Shesterkin second stood out essentially the most from this season? Was it his 40 save look (together with saves on all eight pictures from Auston Matthews) in an early season extra-time win in Toronto? Was it his shut towards Columbus the place Blue Jackets goalkeeper Elvis Merzlikins saluted him late within the recreation from the opposite finish of the ice? Was it his dominant efficiency towards a few of the elite NHL groups, like a 42 save win towards the Panthers or a 38 save towards Lightning? Did his slick hitting and passing, featured many occasions all through the season, together with his excellent help in Game 6 of the First Round towards the Penguins and his shut contact towards Ottawa in February? Was that the 79 saves he made within the triple-overtime recreation towards the Penguins? Or perhaps it was his return from the dressing room after being despatched off in additional time towards Boston in February and main Rangers to a penalty shootout victory?

But with all the good moments he is had all through the season, maybe Shesterkin’s largest influence within the 2021-22 season has in all probability been the boldness he has positioned in his different team-mates. The gamers in entrance of Shesterkin knew they had been by no means out of the sport, and when the crew wanted a save, he would. Rangers’ collective perception of their goalkeeper performed a key position in enabling the crew to have a franchise file of 27 comeback wins in the course of the common season.

The “Don’t Stop in New York” mantra adopted and embraced by the crew is personified by Shesterkin each evening in 2021-22. His gleam matches his work ethic. Shesterkin hated to attain in any state of affairs, even in coaching, and was extra decided after letting the purpose come again and stopping the subsequent shot that got here his approach.

Between the top of the common season and the beginning of this yr’s playoffs, Shesterkin was requested to guage his season. The response? “Not bad. I could have played better.” After receiving the Vezina Trophy on Tuesday evening, Shesterkin spoke about Rangers’ playoff run, saying that “it was a very good experience for us, and we will be even stronger next season.”

It is that mindset that can proceed to propel Shesterkin and Rangers ahead, as they give the impression of being to construct on the success they’ve had individually and collectively in 2021-22.


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