Shesterkin to start for Rangers versus Blackwood and Devils, Islanders lose to Hurricanes on controversial rule


They confirmed it earlier. Well, David Quinn did when he named Igor Shesterkin tonight’s starter for the Rangers when they host the Devils at the top of the hour.

Opposing him will be Devils rookie Mackenzie Blackwood. It’s definitely a good goalie match-up between first-year netminders. Blackwood leads all rookies in wins (21), games started (41) and games played (45). The 23-year old had a six-game winning streak snapped in an overtime loss at the Kings on Feb. 29. He also dropped his last start at Vegas.

Blackwood will face the Rangers for the fourth time this season. He’s 1-2-0 with a 3.88 GAA and .872 save percentage. However, he’s been much better as I noted above. So, it should be an intriguing match-up versus Shesterkin, who only comes in 9-1-0 with a 2.23 GAA and. 940 save percentage. His last start came 14 days ago in a nerve racking 3-2 comeback win over the Sharks on Feb. 22. He made 44 saves to steal the game.

Shesterkin has an NHL record four wins in his first 10 starts of 40 saves or more. The key tonight is will he show any rust. You hope not. Considering how big a game it is with the Hurricanes benefiting from a controversial uphold of a Vincent Trocheck overtime power play goal following what looked like a high stick by Andrei Svechnikov to stun the Islanders 3-2 in overtime, the Rangers trail both the Islanders and Blue Jackets by three points for the wildcard. They’re also a point behind the Canes, who are up to 77 points due to their strange win.

Here was the reason for why the NHL upheld Trocheck’s goal which was on a rebound following the odd Svechnikov high stick at shoulder height off the crossbar:

In regards to the explanation, this is a new rule they put in place this season. It’s still confusing. I thought it was no goal and felt the Isles got jobbed.

As you can tell, there are differing opinions. Who the heck knows what’s a goal and what isn’t anymore? They did rule it a good goal on the ice. Islander replays on MSG showed Svechnikov’s stick above crossbar height. But if it’s not directly put in by the player if it’d at shoulder length, apparently the rebound is allowed if a teammate puts it in.

It’s puzzling. It seems that the league makes up rules as they go along. The Islanders got one point to tie the Jackets in the standings. Columbus is at Edmonton later.

In regards to tonight’s game with a very tough road trip coming with stops in Dallas, Colorado and Arizona, I’m nervous. This is a classic trap game. The Devils have been playing spoiler for a while. The Rangers better not take it lightly and they had better tighten up defensively unlike Thursday night when Mika Zibanejad bailed them out.

I’m headed over to Jon to watch this one. I’ll have a full review later.

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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