Tuesday's game in the garden is the first game of the second half of the season. For the Rangers, however, it is rather Game 1 of 2020-21 – and beyond – because Igor Shesterkin from AHL Hartford was called off and entrusted with the starting order against the avalanche.
It is unclear whether the blueshirts willingly leaped into the future or were driven by the annoying prospect that Shesterkin was exercising his contractual exemption and leaving the wolf pack to return to the KHL or play in another league in Europe. It is not known whether ultimatums were imposed or hypothetical data was discussed, but we do know that management has been in constant contact with goalkeeper representative Rick Komarov for the past month, if not longer.
The thing is, the timing of this maneuver is a bit curious. Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev remain in the squad and are in good health. Lundqvist is not going anywhere. Georgiev's exemption status expired on December 20 when he played the 60th game of his NHL career. And although Georgiev has been unpredictable in the past two weeks while Lundqvist has scored some high notes but missed others, the team's goal is the least of his problems.
In addition, there is no evidence that the Rangers are entering into a deal with Georgiev or that the teams open Jeff Gorton's door to shoot number 40. And no, Lundqvist has not waived its no-move clause following this transaction. Be serious.
That said, unless Shesterkin unexpectedly turns out to be unsuitable for the task, the blues shirts will be stuck in a three-goal scenario where it's practically impossible to keep them all sharp, let alone satisfy. The potential impact on Lundqvist, who started 22 games with a career low in the first half of the game (except for the 2012-13 curfew season), is not measurable.
"The daily approach doesn't change for me," said The King, who finished fifth in the NHL with 4.42 GSAx (goals saved above expectations) per charting hockey in the NHL. "I can only control what I can control.
"The big change, I will say, was really two years ago when we as the organization decided to restart everything. It is not the past week, yesterday or today, I just have to concentrate on my game, prepare and be ready when I play, but now it's an opportunity for Igor. I can't look too far ahead.
"If you have Igor in Hartford and his situation with his business and everything, you are certainly aware of the big picture. But when and if and how and all of this you cannot get too involved with it."
David Quinn admitted that coping with the situation would be a "challenge", but the trainer said he and the organization would do it "day by day". Yes, the Rangers could take Shesterkin to and from the wolf pack, but that hardly seems like an inviting option for the 24-year-old, who quickly conquered the world of small leagues with an AHL peak of 1.93 GAA and 0.932 percent savings ,
"At the moment, we were only concerned about the present," said the coach, who described Shesterkin's promotion as "a natural development" that has nothing to do with Hank or Georgie. … In three weeks or three months, we will no longer worry. We currently have three goalkeepers. "
Shesterkin has been named heir to Lundqvist since he began publishing microscopic numbers in Russia after his fourth round, the 118th overall selection in the 2014 draft submission. He was the 14th Netminder selected this year and the second of the blues shirts that led Trevor Halverson to 59th in the second round.
The Moscow, who celebrated his birthday on December 30, joined the Rangers for a potential camp after signing his first NHL contract – a two-year introductory contract worth $ 925,000 per NHL contract. He worked his way through the training camp and the first months of the AHL season to adapt to the smaller North American ice rink. Shesterkin allowed four goals in his last four games for the wolf pack. He has adapted. He is ready. More than ready.
"I played a lot of games [in Hartford], It was good for me. I like the little ice rink and shots. I like a lot of shots, ”said Shesterkin after training. "It is so important to me. It is a very good day. I am very happy.
"I had one goal – to be up here. Now I have a new goal. I want to play and work hard every day. "
The Rangers have lost three straight losses, are 3-6-1 in their last 10 and have dropped to 13th place in the east, seven points ahead of second place with five teams that need to be skipped to reach the playoffs , The future begins at the beginning of the second half, regardless of whether the organization has been pushed into it or not.
You can find more information about the Rangers in the latest episode of the podcast "Up In The Blue Seats":