Larry Brooks


Igor Shesterkin furious after multiple collisions at Rangers practice

If this happens during the season, one imagines that there would be a greater response than of Igor Shesterkin himself smashing his stick against the rear glass after coming up with a bit of limp following the second goalmouth collision of the Rangers’ opening training camp scrimmage on Thursday.

There was apparently no harm done, with the netminder remaining in net without incident for the remainder of the session. If this keeps up, however, perhaps the coaching staff might want to put Shesterkin into a red non-contact jersey in order to pound home the point that the team’s most valuable player is off limits.

This, by the way, recalls the time that shooters would routinely fire high at Henrik Lundqvist during practices run by then-head coach John Tortorella, who mocked a reporter (Take three guesses) for privately advising the King to simply leave the net the next time it occurred.

Adam Sykora was the culprit the first time, brushing Shesterkin. The 2022 second-rounder immediately made the universal sign of “My bad.” Jarred Tinordi wound up taking out the netminder the next time in defending against a Jonny Brodzinksi drive to the net.

It is hockey. Things happen. There was no malice aforethought in either instance. Players cannot be expected to prance on tiptoes. But there must be some contextual measure of propriety here. No one is going to earn a roster spot by barreling toward or into the blue paint during these first four days of scrimmaging.

Jonny Brodzinski collides with Igor Shesterkin during Rangers practice on Sept. 22, 2022.
Robert Sabo
Igor Shesterkin during rangers practice on Sept. 22, 2022.
Robert Sabo

“Obviously you get a little concerned and you hope he’s OK,” head coach Gerard Gallant said before revealing he’d talked to his players about the do’s and don’ts of camp. “I had told them before we started that there’s no fighting out there and there are no big hits out there.

“We’re out there to see some skill, some talent and [to] play fast. There are four days of practice and after that they’re playing the exhibition games so you can play those games a lot harder. I want guys to show some speed and some skill and some talent.

“These [scrimmages] mean nothing to me,” the coach said. “They mean getting in shape and getting prepared for the season. They’re not going to make our team off these next few days, trust me.”

Igor Shesterkin checks his teeth after a collision at Rangers practice on Sept. 22, 2022.
Robert Sabo

The Rangers protected Shesterkin reasonably well for the bulk of the season after having been negligent in an early November match at the Garden in which the Panthers ran through the crease with impunity. This, you might remember, was followed by a three-day minicamp during a fortuitous break in the schedule that prompted a reset and the 10-1-0 surge that followed.

This rather conveniently brings us to Ryan Reaves, certainly not the only tough player on the club but the lone Ranger who might be identified as a tone-setting enforcer.

The 35-year-old winger worked Thursday on a unit with Turner Elson and Patrick Khodorenko. Fellow fourth-line candidates Jimmy Vesey and Dryden Hunt flanked Gustav Rydahl, who is bidding for the spot as fourth-line center. Thee 28-year-old Swede’s direct competition, Ryan Carpenter, skated between Brennan Othmann and Julien Gauthier.

Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin slams his stick against the glass after a teammate collided with him during practice on Sept. 22, 2022.
Robert Sabo
Igor Shesterkin slams his stick against the glass during Rangers practice on Sept. 22, 2022.
Robert Sabo

Reaves was a staple in last year’s lineup, providing veteran leadership on and off the ice. He was responsible for injecting a large dollop of personality and swagger into the program. But he was also a healthy scratch for six of the final 24 regular-season matches and, more noteworthy, Games 5 and 6 of the Tampa Bay series. A roster spot is secure, but it is not clear that No. 75 will be an automatic in the lineup.

“We have new guys here who are looking for opportunities to make the team and you never know what’s going to happen, but I’m not dwelling on it,” No. 75 told The Post. “If I did, that would kind of twist my head into a pretzel, which I don’t need.

“I hadn’t had my best game against Tampa, so fair enough [on being scratched]. But that was last year. In Vegas, I was scratched for the last game of the [2018] Cup final and the following offseason I got my best contract. So I’m not reading into that.

“If I don’t have a spot, I’m going to earn it,” Reaves said. “And if I do, I’m going to keep it.”

Net-crashers beware.