New York Islanders: 3 Stars of the Game 3 Win

Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have made the Eastern Conference Finals a real series. Game 3 was easily one of the most entertaining games of the 2020 playoffs. The Islanders played their hearts out, and it shows. A mix of desperation and frustration led them to clutch out the win. There were three stars that led the Islanders to victory last night. Their efforts did not go unrecognized, and honestly, I believe three stars are too little to show how good the Isles played last night. But, without further ado, here are the three stars of the night.

Semyon Varlamov

Amazing is almost an insult to how Semyon Varlamov played last night. Varly single handily kept the Islanders’ hopes alive. There were 3 or 4 sequences from the Lightning last night that should’ve been goals, but Varlamov stood on his head. I don’t know what changed for Varlamov from the regular season to the playoffs, but he’s just been fantastic. Even though he did let in 3 goals, there was a possibility it could’ve been 6. The Isles fans are 110% behind their outstanding goalie.

The 4th line

I have to include the entire 4th line here because, oh my god, what a game they played. J.G. Pageau was acting like a goon out there, and he’s a foot shorter than every other player. Not only did Pageau play like an enforcer, but he got an assist on the beautiful Adam Pelech goal and scored the empty-net goal. Don’t forget about the line clearing brawl at the end of the game. Victor Hedman had to save Kucherov from Pageau. Matt Martin continued his hot streak and played amazing defense. Great forechecking as well, as always, and he clocked Barclay Goodrow in the back of the head six times. Sydney Martin has got to be proud of her husband. Also, can’t forget about Cal Clutterbuck sniping Vasilevskiy to open up the scoring. 4th line looked amazing even without Casey Cizikas playing.

The “B” line

When the “B” line gets hot, it’s normally “goodnight Jim Kite.” Josh Bailey had two assists last night as he continues his quest for the Conn Smythe. Anthony Beauvillier scored last night on a beautiful play from Brock Nelson. Not only that, but Beauvillier assisted Nelson’s game-winning goal with a beautiful turn around pass. Brocktober came early Isles fans. Brock Nelson was in prime form last night and would win the game for the Isles. The second line continues to be dangerous.

Honorable Mention

Also, as an honorable mention, what a game for Adam Pelech. Pelech scored his first career playoff goal, so congratulations to him. It was a total snipe, and it got all the Islanders fans excited. Especially the #pelechposse created by Jake Basile (a.k.a. @BathtubJake on Instagram). Pelech was thumping too, a bunch of big hits for the big man. Great game from a shutdown defenseman.

New York Islanders: Barry Trotz must Change the Lineup for Game 7

New York islanders, Jordan Eberle

The New York Islanders have blown their 3-1 lead against the Philadelphia Flyers. Game 7 is on Saturday, and the Islanders need to make some lineup changes. With little to no momentum on their side, the Islanders need to come out swinging. Not literally swinging, but pressuring the Flyers as they did in game 1. I’ve penciled in 3 lineup changes that I believe are detrimental for the Islanders to close out the series.

Thomas Greiss

Before overtime, the Flyers had 20 shots on net, and the Islanders had 50. What was the score, you wonder? 4-4. One out of every five shots that the Flyers took went in. This is not how you win a series. Thomas Greiss is the only solution to this problem. Greiss made some huge saves during game four as the Islanders took a 3-1 lead in the series. Griess isn’t always the most reliable, but Varlamov isn’t either right now. It’s a risky move for sure, but I believe this change must occur.

Tom Kuhnhackl

Tom Kuhnhackl was excellent against the Florida Panthers and was only taken out because of the Isles’ inability to stop the power-play. Now, the Flyers’ power-play is even worse than the Islanders’. Komarov isn’t better than Kuhnhackl on offense, and the offense is what the Islanders need right now. Kuhnhackl’s forechecking works perfectly with Pageau’s ability to jump up on the defense. You can either play Kuhnhackl and get more offense or stick with Komarov and see what works.

Jordan Eberle

Jordan Eberle had at least four chances to end the series last night. Playoff Eberle has fallen off the map completely. He’s taking enough shots, but none of them are going in. I believe he has to move down a line. I don’t know who you would move up because the “B-B-B” line is doing so well. Maybe moving Josh Bailey up a line is the right move, but that’s Trotz’s decision.

Conclusion

The Islanders only have one more shot at winning this series. This is the biggest game in Islanders’ history in 27 years. The pressure is on.

New York Islanders: 3 Key Players to Game 3’s Win

Adam Pelech, New York Islanders

Impressive is almost an insult to how the New York Islanders played in game 3. The Flyers maybe won all of 10 minutes out of a possible 60. This game was a swing game, meaning whoever won gets all the momentum in the series. The Islanders got all the momentum and then some. There were three key players to their win, and their play was sensational, to say the least.

Mat Barzal

Mat Barzal missed two golden scoring opportunities in 20 seconds. Barzal made up for this by collecting an assist on the Islanders’ first goal of the game. It’s not easy being double-teamed, especially in Hockey, but Barzal makes it look like it’s an average morning skate. Barzal has woken up since the Florida series. He used to be the turn over machine, but now he’s opening up the offense. Barzal is making smart plays, especially on the power-play, and when Barzal is on his “A” game, the whole team is.

Semyon Varlamov

Islander fans everywhere were frightened to see a repeat performance from game 2 out of their goalie. Varlamov was on his head the entire game. Nothing phased him, not one shot. Varlamov made it look very easy tonight, and that’s a relief to Islander fans. You can’t go far in the playoffs with bad goalie play, just ask the St. Louis Blues. Varlamov got the job done in game three and possibly may play again in game 4.

Adam Pelech

Who’s the most underrated player in all of Hockey right now? If you guessed anything other than Adam Pelech, you’ve guessed wrong. When the Islanders lost Pelech, the team suffered heavily and got away from Islanders Hockey. Now that he’s back, the Islanders are the most dangerous team remaining. Pelech has amazing stick skills, and he’s strong on the puck. Not only is Pelech solid defensively, but Pelech also creates a ton of offense from his neutral zone play. He did it last game on JG Pageau’s game-tying goal, and he did it this game as well. Adam Pelech continues to be one of the best-kept secrets in the NHL.

Honorable Mentions

The captain Anders Lee has arrived, and when your captain scores every game, you better believe the team follows. Lee has six goals now in the playoffs; for someone who disappears typically in the playoffs, Lee has been “captain clutch.” Derick Brassard played a great game as well. Set Leo Komarov up for his goal, when he kept the puck in the offensive zone with 10 seconds left. Glad to see the 3rd line wingers creating offense.

Conclusion

The Islanders have two more wins left to close out this series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time since 1993. The Islanders are real contenders, and the NHL better start respecting them.

New York Islanders: Greiss or Varlamov for Game 3?

Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders

The New York Islanders have a real lineup decision for the first time in 5 months. Should Semyon Varlamov or Thomas Greiss get the start in the net? Varlamov got blown up in game 2 but has been solid during the bubble. Greiss is the fresher goalie, even though he just fought off 20+ shots in game 2. This decision is the biggest decision Barry Trotz has had to make in his entire tenure with the Islanders. Game 3 is a gamechanger in many ways. Whoever wins not only takes a 2-1 lead in the series but rolls with tons of momentum into game 4. Who’s the better choice to lead the Isles to a 2-1 series lead?

Why Semyon Varlamov Should Start

Semyon Varlamov is one of the best goalies in all of the bubble. If you take away this game, he had a 1.50 GAA with a .941 save percentage. Sadly, you can’t just forget about a game like this. Varlamov was beaten stick side three times and put the team in a hole very early on. Even though he had a bad game, Varlamov left the game around 6-7 minutes into the game, so he’s a fresh body for game 3. Varlamov is most likely ready to go back out there and show that his past performances weren’t flukes. The team and the fans respect and feel comfortable when “Varly” is in the net.

Why Thomas Greiss Should Start

Thomas Greiss was nothing short of excellent today, even though the Islanders came up short. Greiss’ only mistake of the game, wasn’t even his fault, it bounced off Anders Lee and sadly went in. Greiss is also a fresh body, even though he just played basically a full game. Thomas Greiss is a veteran goalie with a ton of playoff experience. There’s no reason for Greiss not to play other than Varlamov being the more talented goalie.

Conclusion

Whoever Barry Trotz chooses, the team must deliver tomorrow. There is no excuse to lose to the Flyers. The Islanders have and will continue to be the better team.

The Islanders would be smart to stick with Semyon Varlamov in goal

Semyon Varlamov, New York Islanders

New York Islanders’ head coach Barry Trotz has a big decision to make as his team is set for a pivotal game three tonight.

Semyon Varlamov or Thomas Greiss in goal?

Varlamov, who had his first bad game of the playoffs in yesterday’s 4-3 overtime loss, was pulled with just more than five minutes remaining in the first period and was replaced by Thomas Greiss after he gave up three goals on ten shots.

This was the first action for Greiss since he split the exhibition game with Varlamov back on July 29th against the Rangers.

The change in goal, which Trotz said after the game was made to try and spark his team, did just that. The Isles battled back from down 3-0 to force overtime while Greiss turned aside all shots he saw through three periods.

In overtime though, Greiss was beaten for the game-winner by Flyers d-man Phillippe Myers after Myers’ shot deflected off Anders Lee’s stick and hopped past his glove.

Tonight’s game three could swing the series, but it would be wise for Trotz to go back to the well. And that means going back to Varlamov in between the pipes.

Here’s why.

Up until his rough outing in game two, Varlamov has been a rock for the Isles in net.

He’s looked extra determined in the team’s run and has let in very few bad goals.

Varlamov has also established a new franchise record for a playoff shutout streak (138:17), passing franchise icon Billy Smith. His goals-against average (1.76) and save percentage (.932) have been outstanding. And he has come up with some timely saves and dynamite performances in the bubble.

Varlamov’s second period performance in game one against the Flyers was also probably his most impressive of the playoffs.

“He’s (Varlamov) backed us up enough,” said captain Anders Lee following yesterday’s game.

But there’s more to Varlamov than just the numbers. He’s been a steady presence the few times the Isles have been under fire in the playoffs.

What helps now too is Varlamov has gotten that awful game out of his system and will be motivated to bounce back. Not to mention, he also received some much-needed rest by only playing 15:09 in game two.

If Trotz does tab Greiss this evening, it will definitely come as a surprise. Varlamov has gotten the Isles this far.

The team should go back to him. He’s earned it.

New York Islanders: 2 Key Players to Game 1’s Win

New York Islanders, Islanders

The New York Islanders defeated the Philidelphia Flyers 4-0 last night, as they take a 1-0 lead in the series. Game 1 has gone to the Island a lot recently. The isles took game one against the Penguins, Panthers, Capitals, and now Flyers, all in 2 years. This was not your average game one, though. This was not the back n’ forth neutral zone trap play that everyone was expecting. No, last night was domination from both teams. The Isles killed it in the 1st and 3rd period, but the Flyers won the second period. Despite this, the Islanders exercised their second-round demons. No wins in the second round for four years, until last night. And there were two key players who helped accomplish that.

Andy Greene

How many goals did that second-round pick that Greene was traded for, score? That’s right, no one knows. Lou Lamoriello was laughed at by the critics for trading a 2nd round pick for a 38-year-old defenseman. This trade keeps looking better and better for the Islanders. Andy Greene opened up the scoring last night with a wicked shot from the blue line that snuck right under Carter Hart’s glove.

This was the first time in 10 years that Greene scored a playoff goal. It couldn’t have happened at a better time, though. This goal gave the Islanders the momentum they needed to shutout the Flyers. Greene also had an incredible skate save in the defensive zone. Travis Konecny had a wide-open net, and Greene shut it down with his right skate. Andy Greene was phenomenal last night.

Semyon Varlamov

The MVP chants just keep getting louder for goalie Semyon Varlamov. This marks the first time in Islanders history that a goalie had back to back shutouts in the playoffs. Varlamov is less than a minute away from breaking Billy Smith’s record for most time without giving up a goal. Just over 136 minutes played with nothing lighting the lamps. Varlamov has been what every Isles fan wanted and more. Varlamov currently has a 1.50 GAA, and a .941 save percentage. 1.50 GAA is a ridiculous stat for a professional goaltender, especially one in the playoffs. Islander fans used to be afraid when a puck went on the net, but not anymore.

Conclusion

The Islanders have a long road to go if they want to hoist the Stanley Cup, but taking game one will definitely help on their journey.

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.