Igor Shesterkin’s recovery from a non-displaced rib fracture continued its accelerated progress Thursday as the Rangers’ presumptive No. 1 goalie was able to take part without restrictions in the morning skate before his team was set to play host to the Capitals.
Coach David Quinn said Shesterkin is now considered “day-to-day” and that this was “definitely a step in the right direction.”
This was the first time the 24-year-old Russian had taken a full array of shots from his teammates since he suffered the injury in a Brooklyn car accident on Feb. 23. Shesterkin initially was supposed to be reevaluated in “a couple weeks,” but began skating a few days ago and then began to take some low shots.
Shesterkin has been outstanding during his first season in North America. He was called up from AHL Hartford on Jan. 6 and became just the fourth goalie in NHL history to win at least nine of his first 10 games. He missed three games with a minor ankle injury, but when he has been healthy, he has been the team’s best option in nets among the three goalies including Henrik Lundqvist and Alex Georgiev, who was set to start against the Capitals, his fifth start in the six games since Shesterkin got hurt.
“Like we touched on before he got hurt, when you have the three goalies together, you just let the play dictate who is the goalie that you’re going to use,” Quinn said. “I thought [Shesterkin] kind of separated himself a little bit after about a four-week stretch when we had all these guys here. His numbers prove it.”
Shesterkin had posted a 2.23 goals-against average and .940 save percentage.
“One thing about goaltending, there isn’t a lot of subjectivity to it,” Quinn said. “I continue to say that we have faith in all of these guys, but Igor is playing the best.”
After the Capitals, the Rangers have the Devils at the Garden on Saturday night before embarking on a three-game road trip to Dallas, Denver, and Phoenix on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Saturday, respectively.