Shesterkin gets another start in first taste of Hudson Rivalry


Tonight, the Devils pay a visit to Madison Square Garden to take on the Rangers. It feels like forever since these Hudson rivals have seen each other.

There was a lot of hype for Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko in October. There isn’t the same hoopla anymore due to Hughes still out with a lower body injury and Kakko not scoring much while on the third line.

Nobody said it was a lock that both 18-year old rookies that went one and two in the NHL Draft were going to light it up right away. It’s going to take a little more time before they turn into the players fans are excited for. Both play third line ironically. Kakko with Filip Chytil and Brett Howden. That’s where he’ll be tonight.

The big story is this is rookie Igor Shesterkin’s second consecutive NHL start. On Tuesday, he won his NHL debut by recovering from permitting two early goals to make 29 saves in a feel good 5-3 win over the Avalanche. That included stopping 28 of the final 29 after falling behind quickly 2-0 on goals from JT Compher and Nathan MacKinnon. He showed good composure and made some key stops to turn it around.

How will the 24-year old Russian do this time? Will there be anymore nerves? Or is he the kind of goalie who’ll settle in and really make things interesting for the Rangers organization? With Henrik Lundqvist the backup and Alexandar Georgiev third string, this is a unique situation. It won’t remain this way forever.

Can Shesty make it two for two in his second start over three nights? Both are at home and you know there will be plenty of support from the fans. The “Igor, Igor”, chants will be out in full force.

With the Devils having played much better since trading distraction Taylor Hall, this won’t be an easy game. They played the Islanders tough twice, beating them once and falling in overtime the other night on an Anders Lee goal. Nico Hischier is playing his best hockey and Kyle Palmieri continues to score. Even PK Subban has reemerged.

It should be an interesting test. I’ll have a game recap much later. As we are going to get the Igor Experience. Let’s hope it goes well.

About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included separate stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also interned for or hockey historian Stan Fischler and worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil telecasts. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has covered consecutive Staten Island Yankees NY Penn League championships in '05 and '06. He also scored Berkeley Carroll high school basketball games from '06-14 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree. The Battle Of New York administrator and chief editor can be followed below on Twitter and Facebook.
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