Henrik Lundqvist

Rangers top Avalanche in Shesterkin’s debut: 3 takeaways

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The New York Rangers really wanted to give Igor Shesterkin a taste of NHL action.

They put him right into the deep end of the pool by sending him out against the Colorado Avalanche — one of the NHL’s best teams — for his debut on Tuesday night. It went about as well as could have been expected in a 5-3 Rangers win.

Let’s take a quick look at three takeaways from the Rangers win.

1. It was a slow start for Shesterkin, but he bounced back

Early on it looked like maybe the Rangers were asking a bit too much from their rookie netminder. A couple of defensive breakdowns later and he had surrendered two goals on the first four shots he faced, including an incredible Nathan MacKinnon breakaway goal following a defensive giveaway by the Rangers. But once he shook off the early nerves he was outstanding the rest of the way and stopped 27 of the final 28 shots he faced.

The 24-year-old Shesterkin is in his first year of pro hockey in North America following a successful run in the KHL. He was a fourth-round pick by the Rangers in the 2014 draft (No. 118 overall).

After dominating for for Hartford in the AHL, the Rangers made the surprising decision to call him up and carry three goalies along with Henrik Lundqvist and Alexander Georgiev. Both goalies have played well this season behind a below average defensive team, making the decision to carry a third goalie even more surprising.

2. Things got rough late in the first period

This sequence late in the first period ended up taking two players out of the game.

Avalanche forward Joonas Donskoi was injured on this devastating hit by Ryan Lindgren, forcing him out of the game. He did not return. In response to that hit, Colorado’s Nazem Kadri pounded Lindgren in a fight. Lindgren exited the game with an “upper-body” injury and did not return.

Kadri ended up getting 17 penalty minute — two for instigating, five for fighting, and a 10-minute misconduct.

3. Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin were great for the Rangers

As they have been all season.

No matter what else is happening for the Rangers, Zibanejad and Panarin have been outstanding for the Rangers. They continued that on Tuesday night.

Zibanejad finished with a pair of points (giving him 33 in 29 games) while his goal, his 17th of the season, tied the game, 2-2, late in the first period. He was also a constant threat every time he was on the ice and was again one of the Rangers’ most dangerous forwards. On a per-game basis this is the best offensive season of his career.

Panarin, meanwhile, has simply been sensational and looks to be worth every penny the Rangers paid him in free agency. He finished Tuesday’s game with a goal (empty net) and two assists. With 23 goals and 58 total points in 42 games he is on pace for 45 goals and 114 total points. Both numbers what shatter his career highs. It may not get the Rangers to the playoffs this season, but if they can keep building around him he is the type of impact player every contending team needs.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers get glimpse of future as Shesterkin makes debut

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with Tuesday’s matchup between the New York Rangers and Colorado Avalanche. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin will get his first taste of the NHL when he starts Tuesday night against the Avalanche.

With Henrik Lundqvist not getting any younger and Alexandar Georgiev, who can become a restricted free agent this summer and is a potential trade chip, it’s time for Shesterkin, the Rangers’ fourth-round pick in 2014, to show what he can do.

“It’s so important to me,” said Shesterkin after Monday’s practice. “It’s a really good day.”

Shesterkin, who will become the first Russian-born goaltender to play a game for the Rangers, has excelled through 23 games with AHL Hartford. He’s posted a .932 save percentage, tops among all AHL goalies with at least 1,000 minutes played, three shutouts, and has helped the Wolf Pack to a 15-4-3 record in games he’s played. He comes into his NHL debut after stopping 106 of the last 110 shots he’s faced.

This now means the Rangers will carry three goaltenders for the foreseeable future as long as Shesterkin plays well. It’s not an ideal situation and will only give rise to rumors that Georgiev will soon be on the move to a team looking for backup help.

“I just think it’s a natural progression when you have a guy playing as well as he was in the American Hockey League, you call him up and you give him an opportunity,” said Rangers head coach David Quinn. “Because of his position, it’s probably taken longer than it should have. If you had a defenseman or a forward that was doing the things that he was doing in the [AHL], he would have been up sooner.

“We’re just taking it right now day by day. That’s really all we’ve really thought about, the present right now. Right now, we’ve got three goalies. He played his way into this opportunity. It has nothing to do with Hank or Georgie. Those guys have really given us a chance most nights. It’s really more about Igor.”

[COVERAGE OF AVS-RANGERS BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET ON NBCSN]

Shesterkin’s contract features a clause that would allow him to leave North America to go back and play in Europe or the KHL. Also, he doesn’t require waivers should he be sent back to the AHL. Georgiev requires waivers now that he’s played 60 games.

Dubbed the successor to Lundqvist’s throne, what would strong play from Shesterkin mean for the future of The King, who is signed through the end of next season? That remains to be seen.

“He’s been doing really well in Hartford and preparing for his first opportunity up here,” said Lundqvist, who will serve as the backup Tuesday night. “The day-to-day approach for me doesn’t change. I can only control what I can control. The big change was really I’m going to say two years ago, when we decided as an organization to restart everything. For me, I have to just focus on my game and prepare and be ready for when I can play. But now, it’s an opportunity for Igor to play. [Georgiev] has been playing well when he’s been in net. I can’t look too far ahead. I have to take it day by day.”

The 24-year-old Shesterkin played five seasons in the KHL after being drafted. The Rangers and their fans have been waiting for his arrival for a long time and now that it’s arrived he’s eager to carve out a place on the NHL roster full-time.

“I had goal to come here [to North America] and try to play. But now I have a new goal,” Shesterkin said via the Rangers website. “I want to play hard, work hard every day. I want to play here.”

Tuesday night’s coverage will be hosted by Paul Burmeister with Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp. John Forslund, Mike Milbury and Pierre McGuire will call the action from Madison Square Garden.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Stars vs. Predators: 2020 Winter Classic by the numbers

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NBC’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the 2020 Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET from Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas on New Year’s Day. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

0 – Number of hat tricks in NHL outdoor game history. There have been zero shutouts in Winter Classic history.

1 – Total number of goals in a 1-0 Stars win over the Predators in their first ever matchup on Dec. 28, 1998 at Reunion Arena in Dallas. Shawn Chambers scored the goal and Ed Belfour recorded the shutout with 14 saves. 

1 – Successful penalty shot in NHL outdoor game history scored by Derek Stepan (2014 Stadium Series). Two others, Danny Briere (2012 Winter Classic) and Anze Kopitar (2014 Stadium Series) were saved.

2 – Number of losses by Peter Laviolette teams in Winter Classics (2010 and 2012 Flyers). 

3 – This will be the third Winter Classic to take place in a college football stadium. The previous two were held in 2014 at Michigan Stadium (Red Wings vs. Maple Leafs) and last January at Notre Dame Stadium (Blackhawks vs. Bruins). 

3 – Goals scored by Eric Fehr (three games played) in outdoor games, the most in NHL history.

4 – Wins by Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist in outdoor games, the most in NHL history.

5 – Decades that Rick Bowness will have been an NHL head coach for when puck drops at the 2020 Winter Classic. He’ll join Pat Quinn (1970s-2010s) and Scott Bowman (1960s-2000s) as the only coaches to ever do so.

5 – Teams that have played in the Winter Classic and Stanley Cup Final in the same season (Pittsburgh in 2007-08, Detroit in 2008-09, Philadelphia in 2009-10, Chicago in 2014-15 and Boston in 2018-19.)

6 – Carolina, Florida, Tampa Bay, Columbus, Arizona and Vegas are the only NHL teams that have not participated in an outdoor game.

6 – Number of Winter Classics that have been decided by one goal.

8 – Victories by Winter Classic road teams. Home teams have only won three times in the event’s history (Bruins 2010, Capitals 2015, Blues 2017).

11 – Number of players born in Texas to have played at least one NHL game (current and former). No goaltenders born in Texas have ever played an NHL regular season or playoff game.

11 – Number of Winter Classics to date. The first edition was held in 2008 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo between the Sabres and Penguins.

11 – Number of NHL teams, including the Predators, that have not won the Stanley Cup.

14 – Number of players in this year’s matchup (Stars – 6, Predators – 8) who have outdoor game experience.

29 – The 2020 Winter Classic will be the 29th outdoor game in NHL history. The Avalanche and Kings will be the 30th when they play at U.S. Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. in February.

1930 – Opening year of the Cotton Bowl, then known as Fair Park Stadium, which featured a capacity of 46,000. The Cotton Bowl now seats over 90,000.

10,000 – Number of gallons of water needed for each inch of thickness on an NHL outdoor rink. An NHL outdoor rink can be up to two inches thick to deal with various elements.

105,491 – Biggest crowd in NHL history sett during the 2014 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. The 90,000-plus that will fill the Cotton Bowl is expected to rank as the second-biggest crowd for an NHL game in the League;’s 102-year history.

Watch the 2020 NHL Winter Classic between the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday, January 1 at 1 p.m. ET only on NBC, NBC Sports and the NBC Sports app.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Pierre McGuire and Brian Boucher will have the call from the Cotton Bowl. Mike Tirico will host the network’s on-site Winter Classic pre-game coverage alongside the NHL Live studio team of host Kathryn Tappen, and analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp. Tirico will interview members of 1999 Stanley Cup Champion Stars team on-site during intermission of coverage on NBC.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Roundtable: PHT’s favorite Winter Classic memories

NBC’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the 2020 Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators. Coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET from Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas, Texas on New Year’s Day. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

JAMES: My favorite Winter Classic memory came from the first one between the Sabres and Penguins in 2008.

Being that I wasn’t covering Winter Classics yet, I was naturally hungover from New Year’s, making a lot of my memories of what was honestly a mostly unmemorable game quite blurry. Sidney Crosby winning the shootout in a snow globe atmosphere made it all work, though, and is a reminder that big moments can paint over otherwise bland affairs.

Watching that, likely while groaning on a couch, will always stick with me. It sure beats the times Crosby and others suffered possible concussions during outdoor games, too.

JOEY: The most memorable Winter Classic moment in my mind has to be in 2009. The Chicago Blackhawks took on the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field.

A lot of the details from that game are pretty fuzzy for me. I remember that the Red Wings won, 6-4, but the one detail I will never forget is the Pavel Datsyuk partial breakaway goal. Datsyuk split two Blackhawks defensemen before scoring an awesome goal on his backhand. It was perfect because it was smooth just like he was throughout his career. There aren’t many things in hockey that get me to leap off my couch anymore, but that was definitely one of them.

SEAN: We all remember Crosby’s goal, the dramatic ending of the 2012 game, but mine is a memory that didn’t take place on the ice. During intermission of that Flyers-Rangers Winter Classic the NHL managed to get Philly’s own The Roots to perform, which has since set the musical act bar very, very high. Sadly, it’s not come close to being matched:

ADAM: It has to be the 2012 game in Philadelphia between the Flyers and New York Rangers. This was the second Winter Classic I had an opportunity to cover in person, and everything about it was pretty outstanding. Good venue, intriguing matchup, and the game itself was great thanks to the way it ended. With the Rangers leading, 3-2, with less than 20 seconds to play, Ryan McDonagh was whistled for covering the puck in the crease resulting in a penalty shot for Philadelphia’s Danny Briere to try and tie the game. Henrik Lundqvist stopped him, secured the win for the Rangers, and John Tortorella, even in victory, was furious with the call after the game in his press conference. He said something along the lines of the everyone getting together and trying to get the game to overtime for TV ratings. It was classic Tortorella.

SCOTT: The 2014 Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs was an all-time classic between two Original Six teams. To see 105,491 fans pile into The Big House in Ann Arbor, Michigan was an unbelievable site. Additionally, the snow added to the mystique and brought back memories of skating on a pond in freezing temperatures for players from all over the world.

Jimmy Howard’s vintage brown pads coupled with Detroit’s red sweater was an awesome combination. The Winter Classic has felt a bit stale at times, but in 2014, the hype was justified.

Watch the 2020 NHL Winter Classic between the Nashville Predators and the Dallas Stars at the Cotton Bowl on Wednesday, January 1 at 1 p.m. ET only on NBC, NBC Sports and the NBC Sports app.

Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk, and Pierre McGuire and Brian Boucher will have the call from the Cotton Bowl. Mike Tirico will host the network’s on-site Winter Classic pre-game coverage alongside the NHL Live studio team of host Kathryn Tappen, and analysts Mike Milbury, Keith Jones and Patrick Sharp. Tirico will interview members of 1999 Stanley Cup Champion Stars team on-site during intermission of coverage on NBC.

PREVIOUSLY:
The snow storm at The Big House
• Syvret’s first NHL goal comes at Fenway Park
Late winner has extra special meaning for Brouwer
Briere vs. Lundqvist

PHT Decade in Review: Most significant trades in hockey

As 2019 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at the past decade. We’ll remember the best players and teams, most significant goals, and biggest transactions that have happened since 2010. Let us know your memories in the comments.

Best Hockey Trades

Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen

The Nashville Predators and Columbus Blue Jackets each had a glaring need and were able to help each other when Seth Jones and Ryan Johansen were traded for one another. From Columbus’ perspective, Johansen was not a favorite of coach John Tortorella and already had a lengthy contract dispute. Nashville had an abundance of talent on the blueline and needed to find a top line centerman. When a trade of this magnitude happens, one team usually regrets the move but, in this situation, both teams were left quite pleased.

Martin St. Louis for Ryan Callahan

It takes a lot of extenuating circumstances for two teams in the thick of a playoff race to trade their captains, but in 2014, the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning completed the transaction. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman created a dispute with Martin St. Louis when he left the future Hall-Of-Famer off Team Canada’s original roster for the Sochi Olympics. In return, St. Louis requested a trade and the Lightning ended up honoring the request. On the other side, Glen Sather wrapped up contract extensions with Henrik Lundqvist and Dan Girardi but struggled to find common ground with Callahan. Even though the Lightning had very little leverage in the negotiations, Yzerman still found a way to pry two first-round picks from New York in the process. The Rangers went on to lose in the 2014 Cup Final and fell in the 2015 Conference Finals to the Lightning in a seven-game series. Neither team won a championship because of this move, but both clubs settled a problem with this transaction.

Mike Richards and Jeff Carter end up in Los Angeles, Flyers acquire Wayne Simmonds, Bradyen Schenn and Jakub Voracek

A few maneuvers were significant when Los Angeles won two Stanley Cups early in the decade, but the Kings paid a steep price to acquire Mike Richards in June 2011. Coincidentally, another big piece, Jeff Carter, was traded that day to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was eventually sent to Los Angeles at the 2012 trade deadline where he became a key cog for the Kings. Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Dustin Brown were already in place, but the acquisition of Richards and Carter were a huge reason why Los Angeles was very successful in the first half of the decade.

On the flip side, the Flyers were looking to change the culture around the club that offseason and landed Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn in the Richards deal, while acquiring Jakub Voracek in the Carter trade. Philadelphia did not win a Stanley Cup, but they were not ripped off in either deal when trading legitimate NHL stars.

Flames send Dougie Hamilton to the Hurricanes in five-player trade

It was a blockbuster trade in June of 2018 that helped both the Carolina Hurricanes and Calgary Flames. Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland and Adam Fox were sent to Carolina in exchange for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm. If one was to define a hockey trade, this would be a great place to start.

One sided trades

Bruins ship Tyler Seguin to Dallas

There are always overreactions after losing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs but the way the Boston Bruins reacted to losing the 2013 Stanley Cup Final was clearly a mistake. The Bruins front office decided to trade Tyler Seguin, a star in the making, to the Dallas Stars for Loui Eriksson and several other pieces. The Bruins did not make matters worse by handing Eriksson a lucrative contract extension in the summer of 2016, but they did lose a player that averaged 77 points per season since the trade.

Capitals send Filip Forsberg to Nashville for Martin Erat

George McPhee is most likely still having nightmares about this transaction.

Ben Bishop for Cory Conacher

This deal is easy to judge knowing how each player performed since the trade. However, in April of 2013 the move did make some sense for both teams. The Ottawa Senators had a crowded crease with Craig Anderson, Robin Lehner and Bishop while Conacher was off to a strong start with the Tampa Bay Lightning, recording 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in the first 35 games of the season. The undersized forward instantly became the Senators’ leading scorer upon his arrival but would never become the lethal scorer Ottawa hoped for. On the other hand, Bishop has become a well-rounded NHL goaltender.

Griffin Reinhart to Edmonton

There probably could be a category for several of the moves Peter Chiarelli made but trading two premium draft picks for Griffin Reinhart is at the top of the list. It doesn’t help when one of those picks turned into Mathew Barzal, but the Oilers general manager hoped Reinhart would solve Edmonton’s defensive issues. Former Islanders general manager Garth Snow is probably still confused how he pulled this one off.

Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson

Hall helped the New Jersey Devils return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and captured the 2018 Hart trophy, while Edmonton picked up a middle-pairing defenseman.

Mika Zibanejad for Derick Brassard

Why the Ottawa Senators were interested in trading a young center with Zibanejad’s potential is still a bit mind-boggling. The Swedish forward has turned into one of the more underrated centers in the NHL while Brassard has bounced around the NHL the past couple of seasons.

Brent Burns to the Sharks

The Minnesota Wild received Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle and a first-round draft pick, but Burns has been one of the most dynamic defensemen in the entire NHL throughout the decade. There are very few assets that could have lived up to the value Burns has provided on the ice.

Franchise Altering Maneuvers

P.K. Subban for Shea Weber

For those who understand the salary cap recapture penalties, the Nashville Predators took a significant gamble when sending Shea Weber to the Montreal Canadiens for P.K. Subban. If Weber were to retire before his deal runs out, they will be forced to operate with a lot of dead money on their books.

Subban did help the Predators reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2017 but has since been shipped off to the New Jersey Devils.

Blues acquire Ryan O'Reilly

The 2019 Conn Smythe winner was an integral member of the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup run last season. Doug Armstrong gave up a lot at the time including a top prospect, two premium picks and two roster players, but the Buffalo Sabres miscalculated in their evaluation. Without the the O’Reilly acquisition, the song ‘Gloria’ is probably not a huge hit in the St. Louis area.

Penguins acquire Phil Kessel

It wasn’t always a smooth ride in Pittsburgh, but Kessel averaged 75 points per season and played a major part in back-to-back Stanley Cup Championships.

TJ Oshie to the Capitals

The Washington Capitals have been one of the most successful teams over the last decade but didn’t get over the hump until the spring of 2018. T.J. Oshie was not the main piece during the championship run, but he has provided secondary scoring and strong two-way play since his acquisition in the summer of 2015.

MORE PHT DECADE IN REVIEW FUN:
• Top NHL players in fantasy hockey
• Most significant goals
• Best players of the decade
• Favorite goals, best/worst jerseys
Best NHL teams of the decade

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.