New York Islanders
Analyzing Ilya Sorokin’s Play Over Last 2 Starts
New York Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin has had a phenomenal season, but that doesn’t mean it has been a cakewalk for the 27-year-old. He’s had some games where he hasn’t seemed like himself.
Since coming over and joining the Islanders in the 2020 bubble, Ilya Sorokin has set such a high bar for himself that people tend to ridicule his performance when he looks anything like a human in between the pipes.
For transparency, that’s what you are about to read, but there’s no agenda, just analysis from someone who has played and studied the position.
Over Sorokin’s last two starts, he’s allowed seven goals, posting a 3.55 GAA with an underwhelming save percentage of .881.
When the Islanders hit the ice last Saturday at UBS Arena, Sorokin was given the night off as Semyon Varlamov got the nod against the Washington Capitals in a 5-1 loss.
Sorokin got a break as, despite victories, he showed some signs of fatigue, and Islanders head coach Lane Lambert believed it was wise to give him rest.
While Sorokin did look sharp early against the Los Angeles Kings, like the team, everything went wrong in the second period, allowing a total of four goals in a 5-2 loss.
And against the Anaheim Ducks, he wasn’t tested too often but did allow three goals in a 6-3 win.
Let’s get to the analysis from someone who is not an NHL netminder:
Goal 1 vs. Los Angeles Kings: Defenseman Nate Walker sent a wrist shot from the left point, which Blake Lizotte redirected from the low slot:
Analysis: The most efficient way to beat goaltenders in the NHL is by getting bodies to the front to take away the eyes and also getting sticks on shots. While it’s a deflection that changes the course of the shot just enough, Sorokin was caught far back in his crease. The farther out Sorokin is, the more angle he can cut off, which becomes an integral part of stopping deflections, with less room for the shot to beat you. Sorokin stayed up, which was a positive, but he may stop the shot if he is more aggressive.
GOAL 2: Defenseman Drew Doughty rifles one glove side on the power play
Analysis: In no way, shape, or form was it Ilya Sorokin’s fault that the Islanders got stuck killing off a 5 on 3, which went south. However, Sorokin, yet again, was caught back in his crease. I spoke with Semyon Varlamov about tracking pucks through screens a few months ago.
“You can’t be too far, or you can’t be too deep. So you have to find the sweet spot to see, like right on top of the goalie crease. And that’s what we do.”
Sorokin found himself essentially on the goal line, which gave Doughty the whole top right to work with.
GOAL 3: Los Angeles Kings forward Alex Iaffalo bangs home a post shot
Analysis: Again, the New York Islanders put Sorokin in a tough spot, but there were things on the goal that he could have done better. Viktor Arvidsson did a smart thing by doing a toe-drag shot at the dot, and as you can see gets Sorokin off his angle, which created more room on the blocker side. Once the shot rang off the post, there’s not much Sorokin can do to recover, and it’s up to his defensemen to make a play.
GOAL 4: Los Angeles Kings forward Trevor Moore Snipes From Distance
Analysis: Trevor Moore did have all the time and space to pick his spot against Ilya Sorokin, and it was a quality shot. And Sorokin was aggressive. However, there was no screen on the play, and from that far out, that’s one that Sorokin likely wants to have. He does drop, like every goalie, but he certainly has the reflexes and tracking ability for that puck to head to the corner.
#Isles netminder Ilya Sorokin's positioning on first three #LAK goals in Tuesday's 5-2 loss: pic.twitter.com/faPyjSPr9I
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) March 17, 2023
Less than 24 hours later, Sorokin was back between the pipes against the Anaheim Ducks as the Islanders were desperate for two points against one of the NHL’s bottom-feeders, who had been playing much better hockey as of late.
GOAL 1 vs. Anaheim Ducks: Max Jones Shoots One From the Slot Off Sorokin’s Pad
Analysis: The New York Islanders broke down just 25 seconds in, allowing Max Jones too much time to pick his spot. Sorokin had to fight through a screen in front as the pass came to the middle. If he wanted to, he likely could have forced a goaltender interference penalty. It’s a challenging play, but that’s why it’s essential to be as far out as possible, even push out on an angle rather than go horizontal or deeper into the crease.
GOAL 2: Trevor Zegras Feeds Shattenkirk on 2-On-1
Analysis: There’s a theme here with the Islanders breaking down. On this play, Sorokin doesn’t track the pass across, and when he slid, getting over in time, he was deep in his crease and got beat short side. It’s a beauty of a play, nevertheless.
The third goal, a power-play goal, went through four bodies.
#Isles Ilya Sorokin on first two #Ducks goals (not blaming, just pictures for analysis piece, breathe): pic.twitter.com/B22AYTxqny
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) March 17, 2023
Ilya Sorokin’s biggest issue has been his depth in goal, and that’s something that is easily correctable. And most of that is mental, not having confidence in your reflexes, with being deeper allowing more time to make a save, a style Henrik Lundqvist played intentionally.
Sorokin has always been a confident player, and the Islanders should have no concern that he will get back to prime form. The purpose of this piece was to take you through his play and why goals went in.
I can usually tell immediately if Sorokin is on or off his game by the depth of his play. As you said: when he’s playing deep in his crease he’s off of his game. When he’s on his game he comes way out to cut the angle off. I named that type of excellent goaltender “yo-yo” because he’s constantly going above his crease and then back into his crease after he makes the save and the players are fighting for the puck behind his net