Varlamov Shining for the Islanders

Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images
Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images

It was not that long ago that the New York Islanders were out of a playoff spot in the extremely competitive Eastern Conference.

They were not playing well defensively, not capitalizing on their chances, not getting good goaltending, and were struggling on special teams. They looked like a team that deserved to be on the outside looking in when it came to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Do not look now, but as of this writing (Tuesday night, April 9), the Islanders are third in the Metropolitan Division, seventh in the Eastern Conference, and 15th in the NHL with a record of 37-27-15 for 87 points. While certain players have stepped up, the main reason why the Islanders are in a playoff spot is because of their goaltender, Semyon Varlamov.

Going into the season, it was supposed to be Ilya Sorokin who would lead the Islanders into the postseason. Sorokin, 28, was one of the best goaltenders in the league last season he was 31-22-0-7 with a 2.34 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage, and six shutouts.

It has been a much different season for Sorokin this year. He has been inconsistent, has allowed a lot of soft goals, and has had trouble coming up with the big saves as he is currently 24-19-0-11 with a 3.02 goals-against average, a .908 save percentage, and two shutouts.

With Sorokin struggling, Islanders’ head coach Patrick Roy turned to Varlamov. For Roy, Varlamov, 35, is someone he is familiar with, someone who helped him win a Jack Adams Award in 2014 as the best coach of the league in 2014 with the Colorado Avalanche, and someone that he knows can steal games for him.

Varlamov has done all of that and more for Roy over the last several games for Roy and his Islanders. He is currently 12-8-0-4 with a 2.72 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage, and three shutouts.

He has especially been good over his last six games. Varlamov has won five of them and has done the following in them:

Not only is Varlamov winning hockey games, but he is doing so in a convincing fashion. He is not allowing soft goals, is stopping the shots he should stop, is putting himself in a good position to stop second and third opportunities, and is also coming up with the big save when his team needs it the most.

Varlamov’s strong play as of late has earned a lot of praise from Roy. After his unbelievable performance against the Predators on Saturday night, Roy spoke glowingly of his goaltender to the team’s website reporter Cory Wright.

“He was outstanding. He looked so confident out there. It looked like it was an easy game and I was happy to see him play that way,” Roy said. “He won the game for us tonight.”

Roy also told The Hockey News’s Islanders reporter, Stefen Rosner, that the way Varlamov is playing is not a surprise to him.

“I’m not surprised. It’s funny because, before coming here, they told me how good he was in the playoffs, the series against Boston and Tampa (2021), the last one, losing 1-0 in Game Seven. Apparently, he was outstanding. But am I surprised? No.

“I have a Jack Adams because of him. So, I know how good he is. And I know what he could do when he gets in that zone.”

If Varlamov continues to be in the zone for the Islanders, they may end up shocking some people come playoff time.

We Got The Jack Inside The Rink

In episode 8 of the Inside The Rink podcast, Matty and Smitty are joined by new co-host Conrad Jack. After the long hiatus, we get back to hockey with a PACKED episode!Matt Rempe & the Devils vs. Rangers Line BrawlCould the Vancouver Canucks squander a playoff opportunity? Have the Winnipeg Jets finally figured out their lines?Flyers Head Coach John Tortorella is a sound byte MACHINEOvechkin is on his way to 895, Who is next?McDavid joins elite company with 100 Assists in a seasonRyan Hartman was suspended 3 Games, was it worth 3 games??Can Auston Matthews hit 70 Goals this season?The Eastern Conference Wild Card race is heating up, who lands the two playoff berths?For all of your hockey news and more from the show, visit us at insidetherink.com and watch us on YouTube! How to support us and our sponsors:TicketmasterColumbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR
  1. We Got The Jack
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  5. Episode 4. Ottawa’s On Fire

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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