Rookie netminder Igor Shesterkin suffered what the Rangers described as a “mild groin strain” and is considered day-to-day, according to a team announcement Friday.
The Rangers likely let out a collective sigh of relief that Shesterkin’s injury wasn’t severe, after it looked to be worst-case-scenario when he had to be helped to the locker room at the Prudential Center Thursday. Shesterkin wasn’t able to put any weight on his right leg and appeared to be in immense pain toward the end of the third period of the Rangers’ 6-1 win over the Devils.
When head coach David Quinn spoke to the media following practice Friday, he said that the 25-year-old was still getting evaluated by a doctor.
This is now Shesterkin’s second groin injury since joining the Rangers last season. While in the Toronto bubble for the expanded playoffs, Shesterkin suffered a similar injury while playing the first half of the exhibition game against the Islanders on July 29. It flared up again at the Rangers’ practice a few days later, and it forced Shesterkin to sit for the first two games of the play-in series against the Hurricanes.
By the time he made his first NHL playoff start in Game 3, the Rangers had already checked out, and Carolina completed the sweep.
Alexandar Georgiev is set to start Saturday against the Devils, with Keith Kinkaid serving as his backup should Shesterkin be unavailable. Kinkaid, who played parts of six seasons with the Devils to start his NHL career, has been practicing with the Rangers this season as part of the team’s taxi squad.
The possibility of losing Shesterkin for any amount of time put a damper on what should’ve been a feel-good win for the Rangers. With roughly seven minutes left in the third period, Devils center Michael McLeod skated across the Rangers’ crease and clipped Shesterkin, causing him to fall with his right knee bent awkwardly under his body.
On his next lateral movement to get in front of a shot by New Jersey defenseman Damon Severson, Shesterkin collapsed to the ice and appeared to be favoring the same leg he had bent on the previous play. He wasn’t able to leave the ice by himself, keeping just his left skate on the ice with his right leg stretched out behind him.
Shesterkin was beginning to steadily emerge at the Rangers’ No. 1 goalie, having started in five of the last eight games. He’s posted a 6-7-1 record with a 2.31 goals against average, as well as a .921 save percentage in 15 games so far this season.
After allowing 10 goals through his first three starts of the season, Shesterkin held opponents to just one or two tallies in eight of his next 11 appearances. He is just the second rookie goaltender in Rangers history to appear in at least 15 of the team’s first 21 games of a season, joining Kevin Weekes.
Along with Kinkaid, the Rangers currently have three other goaltenders who they either own the rights to or are competing with the team’s AHL affiliate in Hartford. Adam Huska, in the final year of his entry-level contract, and Tyler Wall, who signed a one-year ELC in May 2020, have essentially split time with the Wolf Pack.
Dylan Garand, who is on an AHL deal and is set to go back to the WHL’s Kamloops when the Blazers’ training camp begins, has yet to sign with the Rangers. Once the WHL season begins, the Rangers’ fourth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft has to play either in juniors or for the Rangers. Garand could be signed at any time, but it would eat up a year of his deal, making it less likely for him to be an option this season.