New York Islanders: Has Ilya Sorokin Improved Varlamov’s Game?

Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

New York Islanders‘ goalie Semyon Varlamov has been nothing short of sensational during the playoffs. Varlamov is currently boasting a 1.71 GAA with a .932 save percentage. Not only that, but Varlamov also has only allowed five even-strength goals in 7 games. The powerplay goals are not his fault normally, but even counting those goals, Varlamov has only allowed 12 goals in 7 games.

The Capitals have astounding goal scorers like Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, and Jacob Vrana. The Panthers have studs like Alexander Barkov, Mike Hoffman, and Jonathan Huberdeau. Varlamov has been shutting down top goal scorers this entire playoff run. This play has differentiated from the normal Varlamov Islander fans all know. Varlamov had a 2.62 GAA, and a .914 save percentage during this season. There could be a reason why his play has drastically changed, and his name is Ilya Sorokin.

Ilya Sorokin

The Islanders signed Ilya Sorokin on July 13th, 2020. Sorokin is the best goalie outside of the NHL; his stats only back that up. For the last six years, Sorokin has had a GAA under 2.00, and 5/6 years he’s had a save percentage over .930. Most recently, Sorokin boasted a .73 GAA with a .966 save percentage during the KHL playoffs. Even though the KHL playoffs ended after the first round, it’s undeniable how dominant Sorokin was. Sorokin is now bringing his talents to the Island and putting Varlamov in competition.

Competition

Varlamov being the competitor he always has been, will not go down without a fight. “Varly” has fought against good goalies all his life. Braden Holtby, Michael Neuvirth, Philipp Grubauer, and Thomas Greiss. This competition is nothing new for the longtime NHL goalie. Varlamov, as previously stated, has been standing on his head this entire playoff run. If Varlamov continues this play into next season, it will be very hard to replace him as the starter. However, if Sorokin has been creating this pressure in practice, Sorokin could be the starter next year.

Conclusion

Seymon Varlamov is one of the best goalies in the playoffs right now. If everything is clicking in between the pipes and the forwards are scoring gritty goals, the Islanders are a hard team to beat.

Takeaways from the Islanders’ 2-0 win over the Captials

New York Islanders, Cal Clutterbuck

The New York Islanders beat the Washington Capitals 5-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the series. This was one of the best Islander playoff games in recent memory. The Islanders were firing on all cylinders, and for a team who “can’t score,” they scored a lot. The Isles definitely had some rough spots during this game, but that’s expected when playing a great Hockey team like the Capitals. The Islanders won 40 minutes of Hockey last night, but how, and why didn’t they win all 60?

First Period

The Capitals basically pressured the Islanders into giving up a terrible goal in the first period. Alex Ovechkin forechecked, and he was rewarded when he scored off of a slow backhander. Not even a minute in, and the Isles are one down. The rest of this period was really just good pressure by the Isles and some breaks for the Caps.

Second Period

The Islanders came to play in this period. Nic Dowd commits a penalty, and this leads to something the Islanders never do. They scored on the powerplay. Nick Leddy scores with an accurate slapshot from the point. Not even 2 minutes later, Cal Clutterbuck forechecks which leads to a Scott Mayfield pass to the crease, Matt Martin scores a tap in. A minute later, Derick Brassard leads a rush with Leo Komarov. Brassard passes it to Komarov, and he hits it off the post. Komarov missed a wide-open net. Ovechkin would take advantage of this and tie up the game once again. Finally, Brock Nelson steals the puck from Jakub Vrana and has a 1v1 with Braden Holtby. Fifteen seconds after Ovechkin ties the game up, the Islanders lead by one again.

Third Period

The last 7 minutes of this period was the best 7 minutes in recent Isles Hockey. Before that, the refs call a silly tripping penalty on Andy Greene, which leads to a blown empty-net chance by Ovechkin. Ovie had the hattrick and the game on his stick and whiffed on it. Greene comes out of the box, and then the Isles dominate 5v5 play. The Islanders at one point got two forward shifts of forechecking off before the Caps could even leave the zone. All this pressure led to JG Pageau wide open, and it was blocked, but it hit Clutterbuck’s hand and the Isles score, 4-2. Finally, after some tremendous 6v5 defense, the Islanders get the puck out, and Anders Lee scores the empty netter.

Conclusion

This was just a really solid effort from the Islanders. The Capitals are the better team on paper, but that will never stop a well-coached, determined team from winning. Game 3 is on at 12 pm EST tomorrow.

New York Islanders: Thomas Greiss’s Future

Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders

New York Islanders‘ goalie Thomas Greiss is a fan favorite. It’s not hard to see why either, every time he makes a big save, the whole fanbase shouts “Greisser.” Greiss had an average year in net this year. Nothing in his performances really wowed anyone, but he is still the reliable 1b starter the Islanders fans all love dearly. Thomas Greiss, who has been on four different teams, is an unrestricted free agent this year. With the Islanders already having minimal cap space and having to resign Mat Barzal, Ryan Pulock, and Devon Toews, there’s a big possibility that Greiss’s 5-year tenure ends with the Islanders.

Projected Contract

Thomas Greiss isn’t going to be looking for big money in free agency. Also, he may give the Islanders a little discount when it comes time to resign him. Currently, Greiss is making $3.3 million a year; this number will most likely decline. Greiss, who isn’t declining in play, is just getting old now. Normally old players don’t get as much money as younger ones. I project around a 2.2-2.5 million dollar contract for Greiss. Now, it’s not a huge number, but it’s a number that respects his play. This still might be way too much money for the Islanders. The Islanders are looking at around 12.3 million dollars this offseason, and again have that big three they have to resign.

Ilya Sorokin

Ilya Sorokin will take Thomas Greiss’s job either now or really soon. I don’t expect the Islanders to let Sorokin rot in the AHL with Brent Thompson. Also, Sorokin is the best goalie outside of the NHL. His stats, which are insane, still don’t do the man justice. The Islanders aren’t going to let Sorokin waste time, as he’s already 25. Sorokin’s development will spell the end for Greiss.

Future Teams

A lot of teams need a new goalie. The Penguins will need one when they make Murray leave. The Leafs might need one to be a backup. The Red Wings obviously need a new goalie. The Capitals could use a goalie if they let Holtby walk. Greiss is good enough to play 30 games a year still, and contending teams need that. I wouldn’t be surprised if Greiss wins a cup within the next 2-3 years with another team. He’s still a solid goalie, but there’s not enough room for him on the Islanders. There are other teams that will pay better and feature him every other night.