Igor Shesterkin is the heavy favorite to win the Vezina Trophy, having posted 22 wins and a .937 save percentage in his 29 games so far this season, but the Rangers goaltender is not kind of making assumptions.
When asked if he had paid attention to the fact that he had been at the center of the conversation for the best goalkeeper award, Shesterkin was quick to respond.
“No, I don’t speak English,” he said in perfect English.
And in Russian?
“They don’t talk about it,” he joked.
This kind of response comes as no surprise coming from a keeper who is apparently never satisfied with his performance. Even after a shutout, Shesterkin said he’s able to identify mistakes in his game that he wants to correct.
The 26-year-old spent part of the All-Star break in Miami. And while it was nice to rest, Shesterkin said he thought it was too much time off to play. A week, he says, is good enough. Still, Shesterkin agreed he felt refreshed ahead of Rangers’ final 35 games.
“I feel pretty good,” Shesterkin said. “We aim to make the playoffs, and we just have to keep going. Show our game. Every game matters. »
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As for how Gerard Gallant plans to deploy his goalkeepers in the future, the Rangers coach, as expected, didn’t reveal much in the final days of training. It’s safe to assume Shesterkin will get the start against the Bruins on Tuesday, especially since it’s the Rangers’ first game since Feb. 1.
Gallant said he and director of goaltending Benoit Allaire have an overall plan for how they expect the goaltending schedule to play out, but he noted that often changes quickly. In turn, Gallant admitted that he didn’t pay much attention to it.
“Honestly, I’m not worried about that,” Gallant said when asked how many games he expects Shesterkin to play. “Things are changing day by day in our business, so I worry about [Tuesday’s] Game. I’m not worried about Igor playing 30 games or 35 games or 15 games, I’m worried about having a good goalkeeper in the net for the next 35.
“It’s not about Igor, it’s not about Georgie, it’s about winning hockey games and playing who is ready to go.”
Gallant wouldn’t confirm if Patrik Nemeth will be available on Tuesday, while declining to say if the veteran defenseman is physically okay.
“He had four good practices, that’s all I’m going to give you,” he said.
Six of Rangers’ next eight games will be at home. Of their last 35 games, 20 have been at Madison Square Garden.