The handoff from Henrik Lundqvist to Igor Shesterkin within the Rangers’ mantle of elite goaltenders is full.
On Tuesday night time, Shesterkin turned the primary Ranger since King Henrik to win the Vezina Trophy, duplicating Lundqvist’s 2011-12 feat of being formally acknowledged because the league’s finest goaltender following a historic season.
Shesterkin lifted the Rangers to their first playoff look since 2017 with 36 regular-season victories, as they went on to make the convention closing earlier than shedding to Tampa Bay in six video games. He set a franchise document with a .935 save share, which was additionally the third-highest mark in league historical past amongst goaltenders with over 50 begins. He additionally led the league with a 2.07 objectives towards common, 44.9 objectives saved above common and a 2.11 adjusted objectives towards common, per Hockey Reference.
The 26-year-old Shersterkin beat out Calgary’s Jacob Markstrom and Nashville’s Juuse Saros for the award. All three would have been first-time winners.
As Lundqvist’s jersey was raised to the rafters final January, Shesterkin began to put in writing his personal Rangers legacy in his first 82-game season because the crew’s starter. Except for two blemishes within the first spherical towards Pittsburgh, Shesterkin began and completed all 20 playoff video games for the Rangers, with a .936 save share from Recreation 5 towards the Penguins onwards.
“They are saying Igor, I simply say OK,” Shesterkin memorably mentioned of Penguins followers’ singsong chanting of his identify.
After the season had ended, Shesterkin returned to the topic.
“The following crew, subsequent followers in Carolina tried to make the identical [chant], however it would not work for me,” he mentioned. “I feel it is helped me extra to concentrate on the sport.”
Shesterkin, although, was in a category with them this season. In line with MoneyPuck’s Targets Saved Above Anticipated metric, Shesterkin’s 34.1 GSAx was probably the most within the league regardless of his having performed 10 fewer regular-season video games than second-place Andrei Vasilevskiy.
“I all the time attempt to [be at] my finest, however once I lose, each time simply occupied with objectives and I do know I can cease [them],” Shesterkin mentioned a pair days after the season ended, his thoughts nonetheless centered on the Recreation 6 loss to Tampa Bay. “It would not matter what’s occurred. I surrender a very easy aim within the final sport. So I can’t do that when we’ve an exhibition sport.
“I all the time say I can play higher. I can say it once more, I can play higher.”
Simply two days after that defeat, Shesterkin mentioned he deliberate to relaxation up for a pair weeks, then begin working once more. Even in that second, although, he had some gratitude for the season that was.
“I need to say thanks for Rangers followers and followers all over the place,” Shesterkin mentioned. “They helped me a lot. You by no means know what’s gonna occur, however once I surrender a aim and all [the crowd] chants my identify, I simply get up and attempt to maintain my breath for this metropolis, for these individuals.”
All by way of the season, he heard these chants, louder and louder till the tip.
“All people is aware of my identify,” he mentioned, jokingly, at breakup day.
In the event that they did not earlier than, they definitely do now.