But in Shesterkin’s case, being tough on himself didn’t help him stop the puck the way he wanted to last season. His problem is overthinking.
“I don’t have to think about anything, just make a push, stop and focus, but last season I just started thinking a lot before a shot, before a pass, and I made the first move,” Shesterkin said. “It’s easier for the forwards to score.”
That’s less the case in 2021-22.
“I had a couple good games at the beginning of that season and I just kept that mindset,” Shesterkin said. “When it’s bad days and I’m taken or something I just go away and the next day I start thinking about a new day, a new practice, a new game. Last season, I kept thinking about games, practices, everything I did well, what I did badly and what I needed to change. I brainstormed and it wasn’t easy to be fresh in a game if you think about everything. I’m just a player. I don’t have to think about all that. Keep it simple.”
Jonathan Quick understands.
“It comes with the position, especially when you have seasons where you have success that you expect every night,” said Quick, the Rangers’ new backup goalie. “You have to know when to back yourself off a little bit. Having that drive and trying to perfect your game every day is a long way, but it’s hard to find the balance of when what’s too much.”
Quick said at times he struggled to find that balance over the course of his 15-year NHL career that yielded three Stanley Cup championship rings, two as the No. 1 of the Los Angeles Kings (2012, 2014) and last season as the backup of the Vegas Golden Knights.
“You want to be good every night and to be good every night you have to save other guys in the League not every night,” he said. “When you hold yourself to those expectations it’s hard on your mind, especially when you play 60 games.”
Quick said that what worked for him was to forget all the technical details of his game and instead he would just do everything he could to stop the puck.
“It’s not that you neglect your structure, but you find that if you don’t focus on it, it starts to come naturally,” he said.
Shesterkin said he finally started that in late February last season.
“I don’t think about crap,” Shesterkin said.
He went 12-3-1 with a 1.98 GAA, .934 save percentage and two of his three shutouts in 16 games from Feb. 26 through the end of the season.
The Rangers lost to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference First Round, but Shesterkin wasn’t to blame. He allowed 14 goals in seven games, 10 in four losses to New York.
“Now, I know what I have to do,” Shesterkin said.
It includes positive thinking, a happy mindset, a genuine smile on his face.
“I just want to be the best,” Shesterkin said. “If someone says I’m the best, then thank you very much. If someone says I’m the worst, thank you very much. Happy.”