The competition between Henrik Lundqvist, Igor Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev to be the starting goalie for the New York Rangers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers is tight, according to coach David Quinn, who said Sunday that a decision could be made soon.
“I’ve liked what I’ve seen from all of them at some point in time. It’s a battle,” Quinn said. “I think we’re going to probably have a conversation here. After a week now that we’ve [been] practicing, I think it’s a good time to kind of reassess where we’re at and take it from there.”
Lundqvist played an entire scrimmage Sunday, winning 5-3 against a team that used Shesterkin and Georgiev.
Quinn did not put a time frame on the decision but said the coaching staff will have discussions Monday.
The No. 11 seed Rangers (37-28-5, .564 points percentage) leave July 26 for Toronto, the hub city for the 12 Eastern Conference teams, and will play the No. 6 seed Carolina Hurricanes (38-25-5, .596) in a best-of-5 series scheduled to begin Aug. 1. The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and the loser will have a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery on Aug. 10.
Quinn was asked how he planned to use the goalies for an exhibition game against the New York Islanders on July 29.
“Like I said, we’ll probably sit down here on Monday, tomorrow, during an off day (for the players), to talk about things along that nature,” Quinn said. “There’s a lot of things we want to readdress here after spending a week together, kind of get a feel of where we’re at. I’m not sure what we’re going to do in that scenario. Under these unique circumstances, it really is a day-by-day situation.”
Shesterkin said his physical condition is 100 percent after training with a personal coach in Russia. He missed six games with a nondisplaced rib fracture sustained in a car accident Feb. 23 and returned March 7, a 6-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden. He appeared to take over as the No. 1 goalie after his recall from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Jan. 6, going 10-2-0 with a 2.52 goals-against average and .932 save percentage before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
Whether Shesterkin reclaims the No. 1 job for the Qualifiers remains to be seen.
“I’m working hard every day playing and 100 percent working hard to reach that goal,” Shesterkin said. “The bottom line is, I’m so happy to be back. No matter what happens, I’ll be supportive of my teammates.”
Lundqvist started four of New York’s final 29 games after Shesterkin’s arrival, going 1-3-0 with a 3.48 GAA and .872 save percentage. But he’s 33-12-1 with a 2.00 GAA and .934 save percentage in 46 games against the Hurricanes, including 3-0-0 with a 2.33 GAA and .947 save percentage this season.
“Obviously, watching Henrik, you see the work ethic,” Shesterkin said. “It’s an unbelievable crazy work ethic, and I tried to reach that level of watching him and [Georgiev], who also has an unbelievable work ethic every day. I’m learning things every day, I’m looking at details, but I’m not going to tell you what I learned.”