New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin reacts skating back to...

New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin reacts skating back to his net after a break in play against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday. Credit: AP/Adam Hunger

Do the Rangers have an Igor Shesterkin problem?

The 27-year-old Russian goalie is going through a bit of a rough patch right now, and while he’s not struggling to get wins exactly, he’s certainly not going to win the Vezina Trophy again this season.

He’s 25-9-7, with a 2.59 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage, and he was an NHL All-Star. But he’s given up four goals in each of his last three starts, and in his five appearances since the All-Star break, he’s allowed 18 goals on 133 shots, which is a save percentage of .865.

And it seems to be eating him up. After allowing four goals in the first period against Edmonton Friday, then shutting the Oilers down the rest of the game and stopping five of six attempts in the shootout, Shesterkin stormed off in the middle of an interview when asked the relatively benign question of what he thought a comeback win like that did for the team’s psyche.

After Monday’s 4-1 loss to Winnipeg, a game in which the Rangers outshot the Jets 51-21, Shesterkin declined to talk to the media.

So clearly, he’s brooding right now.

When the Rangers turned their season around  in early December, many observers pointed to the night when captain Jacob Trouba threw his helmet in frustration as he was leaving the ice following a fight in the second period of a 5-2 loss to Chicago on Dec. 3. After that game, the Rangers were 11-10-5, but they would rally from behind in the next game against St. Louis to start a seven-game win streak. They are 22-5-4 since then.

But the turnaround may have actually started just before that. On Nov. 28, following a 5-3 loss to the Devils, Shesterkin told reporters he had “played like [expletive] again,’’ and said he was “ashamed’’ of how he was playing. Shesterkin picked up his own game from that point and the team has turned it around, too.

Shesterkin has high expectations for himself, and he is clearly hard on himself. But the Rangers haven’t needed to rely on him as much as they did the first two or so months of last season, when they needed him to be otherworldly every night to give them a chance to win. This season, the Rangers have been better as a team in front of Shesterkin, and after a tough start, backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak has been excellent, too, which has helped as well.

But if the Rangers are going to go as far as they did in last year’s playoffs, when they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, they are going to need Shesterkin to figure some things out, settle his mind, and pick up his game.

Beginning with Thursday’s visit to Detroit, the Rangers will play 25 games over the final 50 days of the regular season. In that time, coach Gerard Gallant and goalie coach Benoit Allaire are going to have to find the right formula of getting Shesterkin enough playing time —  while making sure he gets enough rest, also —  to allow their No. 1 goalie to get into a rhythm and feel good about himself in time for the start of the playoffs.

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