Varlamov Continues to Provide Steady Goaltending for the Islanders

Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images
Photo by Jason Mowry/Getty Images

There is no doubt that the New York Islanders‘ future in between the pipes is Ilya Sorokin.

Sorokin, 28, was a Vezina Trophy finalist (given to the league’s best goaltender) last season and has posted solid numbers in his career so far. He is currently 95-65-0-30 with a 2.54 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage, and 18 shutouts.

With that said, he struggled in the regular season this year and in his one game in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, he did not play well. In Game 3 against the Carolina Hurricanes, he stopped 11 of 14 shots and because of that, he is 0-1 with a 6.61 goals-against average and a .786 save percentage.

Meanwhile, backup goaltender Semyon Varlamov was the main reason why the Islanders made it into the postseason this year. He finished the regular season 14-8-0-4 with a 2.60 goals-against average, a .918 save percentage, and three shutouts.

More importantly, Varlamov, 36, has been more than solid in these playoffs for his hockey club. He is 1-2 with a 2.08 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.

Varlamov is also the main reason why the Islanders avoided elimination by winning Game 3 by a score of 3-2 in overtime. He stopped 42 of 44 shots, and because of his performance, the Islanders live to fight another day.

There are several reasons why Varlamov is playing so well right now. For starters, he has a lot of experience playing in the postseason.

He has started in 64 playoff games and, for the most part, has played well come springtime. As of this writing (Saturday, April 27), he is 32-29 with a 2.40 goals-against average, a .919 save percentage, and four shutouts.

Sorokin, on the other hand, has a limited amount of experience when it comes to the postseason. He has played in just 14 games and while he has put up solid numbers (6-6 with a 2.83 goals-against average and a .921 save percentage), Islanders head coach Patrick Roy is more comfortable going with a seasoned veteran between the pipes at the most important time of the year.

Another reason why Varlamov is playing so well is because he has a lot of confidence. He is challenging shooters, controlling his rebounds, and giving his team every chance to stay alive in this series.

Roy also has a lot of confidence in Varlamov. He used him a ton down the stretch and in listening to him and pre and post-game conferences, it is clear that Roy trusts Varlamov to get the job done.

Lastly, Varlamov is simply a good goaltender. His career regular season numbers are really good as he is 286-228-0-68 with a 2.64 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage, and 41 shutouts and his playoff numbers (see above) are also good.

This is a goaltender who knows what a job is. He goes out there, stops pucks that he should stop, does not allow many soft goals, and provides a veteran presence in a position that is needed the most come playoff time.

The Islanders may still be down three games to one in this series, but there is no doubt that Varlamov is going to give them the goaltending that they need to give them a chance to climb back into the series.

In this episode, we discuss the variety of ways this offseason can go, Laf vs Stutzle and Q/A Mailbag.How to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITRThanks for listening! Please rate and review our show on your favorite listening platform. Check out our partner's website at www.insidetherink.com for all your latest hockey news.
  1. Many Directions, One Goal
  2. A Heartbreaking End, Offseason Begins
  3. Game 5 Recap : Guest Joe Fortunato
  4. Game 4 Recap : Breakout Breakdown
  5. It's Not Worth Winning if You Can't Win-berg

Patrick Hoffman

Patrick covers the NHL for Inside The Rink. He has previously covered the league for The Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave, WTP Sports, Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.

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