Tuesday night was an exciting evening with 12 games across the National Hockey League. The busy schedule gave us plenty of goalie news, including a big debut on Broadway, some heroics in the desert and a victorious anniversary. In addition, we have a very deserving All-Star replacement.
Shesterkin Topples Avalanche in NHL Debut
As the old saying goes about New York City, “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” If this holds true, then Igor Shesterkin will have a very successful NHL career.
New York Rangers fans have been waiting a long time to see Shesterkin take the ice at Madison Square Garden. After being drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, he spent the last five seasons playing in his native Russian.
He finally came to North American for the 2019-20 season and has been spectacular in the American Hockey League. In 23 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack, Shesterkin posted a 1.93 goals-against average (GAA) and a .932 save percentage (SV%).
The 24-year-old netminder made his league debut Tuesday night and had a tall order with the high-powered offensive attack of the Colorado Avalanche in town. The nerves were apparent early as he gave up two goals on the first four shots he faced. He then settled in and gave up just one goal in the final 28 shots he saw in a 5-3 victory.
“On my way to the arena my hands were shaking, couldn’t even drink water,” Shesterkin said through a translator after the game. “But as I stepped on the ice, I felt everyone’s support and energy and it really helped me.”
Per NHL public relations, Shesterkin is just the fifth Rangers goaltender to win his league debut since 1980. The other four were Mackenzie Skapski (2105), Dan Cloutier (1998), Mike Richter (1989) and John Vanbiesbrouck (1981).
Hill Shines in First Start of the Season
As we talked about on Monday, the Arizona Coyotes are currently without their top two goaltenders as All-Star Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta are dealing with lower-body injuries. With the Coyotes right in the thick of the Pacific Division race, they cannot afford to surrender too many points.
Aiden Hill made his first start of the 2019-20 season at the Florida Panthers on Tuesday and he was the difference-maker in a 5-2 win. Hill, who made two relief appearances earlier this season, made 37 saves to lead the Coyotes to their fourth straight win.
“A little bit nervous, but once you get to the rink and you get into your routine before the game, all that kind of disappears and you’re just playing the game you love,” a victorious Hill said. “I felt good. I guess I saw a lot of pucks. The guys did a great job locking it down for me for the first game. For my first start of the year, they played a great game, and special teams seemed to be the key to the win.”
Binnington Celebrates Anniversary in Style
Jan. 7 is a big date for St. Louis Blues netminder Jordan Binnington. It was on that date in 2019 when he made his NHL debut in grand fashion with a shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Binnington’s first year on the NHL was a historic one, to say the least. He set a franchise rookie record for nine straight wins and 23 total on the season. He became the first rookie goaltender in league history to earn 16 wins in a single postseason leading the Blues to their first-ever Stanly Cup championship. He closed the calendar year of 2019 with 43 wins, the most of any goaltender in the league.
He was back in the crease on the one-year anniversary of his first game and he made 27 saves to beat the San Jose Sharks. The victory not only snapped the Blues three-game losing streak, but it made them the first team in the Western Conference to earn 60 points.
Jarry’s Run Takes Him to St. Louis
In addition to all the great action on the ice on Tuesday, the league named a couple of All-Star replacements as well.
The Metropolitan Division team was in need of some reinforcements after some injuries, including one to Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Joonas Korpisalo. The NHL announced that Tristan Jarry will be heading to St. Louis to replace Korpisalo.
Jarry, who started the season as Matt Murray’s backup, has gone 14-6-1 with a 2.04 GAA, .934 SV% and three shutouts. This will be the 24-year-old’s first All-Star Game.
“It surprised me,” Jarry said about hearing the news. “It’s exciting. It’s something every kid dreams of. You watch it every year, and you think it’s something that would be cool to be a part of. It’s something I’ll take in stride.”
Penguins defenseman Kris Letang was also added to the Metropolitan squad to replace his injured teammate Jake Guentzel. The 2020 NHL All-Star Game will take place on Saturday, Jan. 25.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.