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Islanders Sorokin Finds Game Again, What’s Changed?



New York Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin (Photo via New York Islanders Twitter)
New York Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin (Photo via New York Islanders Twitter)

It was about a month ago when we were discussing the struggles of New York Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin.

From Nov. 29 to Dec. 16, Ilya Sorokin lost all of his five starts with a 3.46 GAA, an .876 SV%, with a .703 HD SV%.

Back on Dec. 19, as the Islanders and Sorokin geared up for a game against the Colorado Avalanche, NYI Hockey Now caught up with backup netminder Cory Schneider to get some insight on what may have been going on with Sorokin’s game.

“I don’t know if you’ve seen Ilya at all. He’s had a few bad games, but if you look at his track record, that’s the anomaly, not the rule,” Schneider said.

READ MORE: Islanders Schneider Shares Thoughts on Sorokin’s Struggles

Hours later, despite a 1-0 loss in a shootout and a personal sixth-straight loss, Sorokin earned his third shutout of the season, denying all 46 shots through regulation and overtime before stopping one of two shootout attempts.

Sorokin looked like Sorokin.

Then a few days later, Sorokin went up against childhood friend Igor Shesterkin and the New York Rangers, stopping 29 of 33 in a 5-3 loss where his defense did not help him out–at all.

Seven straight losses for Sorokin, but it was clear he was more or less his usual elite self.

Finally, the wins started to come as he has won his last three starts, starting the last three games for New York.

He snapped his personal seven-game skid with a 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers, followed by a 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Then to make it three straight, Sorokin and the Islanders beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1.

Over his last three starts, Sorokin owns a .954 SV% with a 1.00 GAA and an .846 HD SV%. For the record, his first win of three was the second of a back-to-back.

What we have seen from Sorokin since that Colorado game, but more over the last three, is that he is coming out toward the top of his crease. He’s controlling his rebounds, making those big times saves he was not making during his struggles.

Sorokin has very few weaknesses, but they come to the surface when he struggles. One of his biggest issues when he first broke into the league was stopping the far-side shot, usually blocker side, on an odd-man rush against when the puck carrier decides to shoot.

In his latest game, a 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, Sorokin wasn’t too busy, facing just 21 shots (stopped 20).

But there were a few odd-man rushes against, one a two-on-one when the puck carrier came down the right side and took the far-side shot, blocker side.

Sorokin, ultra-aggressive, made a strong blocker save, which was a dead giveaway that his confidence was back.

If we want to look at Sorokin’s stats over his last five starts, when his play started to improve, those numbers are rather strong as well, with a .951 SV%, a 1.38 GAA, and an .861 HDSV%.

Sorokin’s bounce-back has been critical for the New York Islanders with Semyon Varlamov on Injured Reserve.

He’s started the last five games in a row, as mentioned, both of a back-to-back.

Albeit his workload in terms of shots against hasn’t been extremely high, Ilya Sorokin has done his job, and the New York Islanders now find themselves in a playoff spot heading into 2023.