Every time he plays, it is a guarantee that Ilya Sorokin will give the Islanders a chance to win. But as Sorokin has solidified his position as the No. 1 goaltender and entered Vezina Trophy contention, the attention has shifted away from Semyon Varlamov, who ceded the top spot on the depth chart to his buddy and fellow Russian.
Indeed, Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Chicago was just Varlamov’s ninth start of the season. In addition, it was his first shutout since April 1 of this year, when he shut out the Rangers.
“I am always pleased to have a shutout. “It’s a significant problem for the goaltender,” Varlamov remarked. Then he grinned and continued, half-jokingly, “That doesn’t happen to me very frequently, especially recently. I’m thrilled I was able to obtain one today.”
Against a terrible Blackhawks squad, the Islanders did not give Varlamov much to do; he saved all 21 shots he faced. Still, after posting a.916 save % and seeming vulnerable throughout his first eight attempts in goal, achieving a season’s first shutout was a significant accomplishment.
Semyon Varlamov is the Islanders’ goaltender.
General manager Lou Lamoriello’s decision to retain Varlamov at a cost of $5 million per year raised eyebrows both at the trade deadline and in the offseason, when he stated that having two competent goaltenders was crucial to success across 82 games.
As with the rest of Lamoriello’s non-moves this summer, it appears to be a smart decision.
“I believed he was firm, stable, and serene,” stated coach Lane Lambert. “Just in position the entire night. When it was necessary, he made several crucial saves. Full marks for him.”
The Islanders’ defensive zone organization in front of their goaltender appeared improved for the second consecutive game, as they allowed fewer than 25 shots.
“I simply believe we’re closing faster. “I guess we’re not necessarily thinking,” remarked Matt Martin. “It’s becoming a little more natural; players are closing, offering their bodies, and blocking shots when necessary…. Once you stop worrying about the game and just play, everything comes into place better.”
Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Palmieri remained out with upper-body issues. Prior to the game, the Islanders summoned defender Robin Salo from AHL Bridgeport, although he did not play.
Brock Nelson’s 3-0 goal assisted by Anthony Beauvillier earned him his 200th career point.
In his Islanders debut, Hudson Fasching skated for 13:04 on the fourth line.