We have some stunning news to report.
According to several report from around the National Hockey League, the New York Rangers will be without starting goaltender Igor Shesterkin on Saturday. That in and of itself would be a major development, but perhaps even more surprising is the decision from the Rangers to put star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist between the pipes as his replacement.
Rangers insider Larry Brooks is reporting that Shesterkin has been deemed "unfit to play" a term that we have been hearing far too much of in the National Hockey League as of late. Brooks does also report however that he does not believe Shesterkin's designation to be related to COVID-19 and speculates instead that the goalie may have suffered an injury on Friday during practice of during the team's exhibition game against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.
The decision to put Lundqvist in comes as a shock not because of the veteran's well established pedigree in the league, but more so due to the fact that Lundqvist had fallen all the way down to the third string behind both Shesterkin and Alexandar Georgiev. I can see why the Rangers would hesitate to put the relatively inexperienced Georgiev in goal over the proven veteran in Lundqvist, but the decisions made by the team in the regular seasons would have led me to believe that Georgiev could very well have gotten the call here.
Over the course of the regular season, prior to the shutdown, Lundqvist had made 30 appearances for the Rangers and recorded a 3.16 goals against average and a .905 save percentage. Those numbers had resulted in him effectively being left on the sidelines while the Rangers ran with the tandem of Shesterkin and Georgiev, a tandem that was proving to be extremely effective for the Rangers. I also wonder who would have been the backup today had Shesterkin been eligible to play, I suspect based on today's decision that Lundqvist would have been that man.
The loss of Shesterkin, a young man that over a limited 12 game stretch late in the season looked like one of the best goaltenders in the entire league, could prove devastating for the Rangers.