From Russia with Glove: Will Shesterkin vs. Sorokin be the New Lundqvist vs. Brodeur?

Sean Hartnett
April 14, 2020 - 1:42 pm
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From 2005 to 2014, hockey locals were treated to A+ goaltending duels between two generational talents when Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Brodeur met in the Rangers-Devils rivalry. Now, as the Rangers-Islanders rivalry reignites, Igor Shesterkin versus Ilya Sorokin could become the next local netminding showdown.

Shesterkin has enjoyed a sensational rookie season for the Blueshirts. The 24-year-old has posted a 10-2-0 record through his first 12 games, while recording a .932 save percentage and 2.52 goals-against average. Despite competition from Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev, Shesterkin has taken over as the clear cut No. 1 goalie.

With news coming out of Russia that Sorokin will not re-sign with CSKA Moscow, the Islanders will soon be boosted by an exceptional young talent. Sorokin’s contract expires on April 30 and will be free to sign for the Isles.

Like Shesterkin before him, Sorokin has shined in the KHL. He helped CSKA to the 2019 Gagarin Cup championship and was named playoff MVP. This season, Sorokin recorded a 26-10-3 record with a .935 save percentage in 1.50 goals-against average in 40 regular season games. When the 2020 Gagarin Cup playoffs began, he swept Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in the opening round – posting a .966 save percentage and 0.73 goals-against average before the remaining playoff games were canceled.

Away from the rink, Shesterkin and Sorokin are close friends. Both are 24 years old and have tremendous futures ahead of them. Hockey locals could be treated to fierce battles between the two for the Vezina Trophy and the possibility of the two meeting in playoff matchups.

Brodeur and Lundqvist first met in the Hudson River Rivalry in 2005-06 when Brodeur was a 33-year-old veteran and Lundqvist was a 23-year-old in his rookie campaign. The pair only met in three playoff series.

The Shesterkin-Sorokin rivalry could potentially stretch beyond a decade and take The Battle of New York to a fever pitch. In 10 years’ time, the big debate could be over whether Shesterkin or Sorokin is the best goalie of their generation.

Let’s hope that the arrival of Sorokin on Long Island means that he and Shesterkin will engage in memorable playoff encounters and breathe new life into the Rangers-Isles blood feud.

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