Goaltenders. The most pressured position in all of sports but one of the most rewarding as, at the end of the day, their play severely impacts the outcome of games. During the 2021-22 season, we have seen tremendous highlight-reel saves, and on Tuesday, the NHL released their 10 best saves of the season. Sitting at no. 3 is New York Islanders netminder Ilya Sorokin, who, back on Mar. 17, made one of the craziest saves you will ever see against Artemi Panarin and the New York Rangers.
The only two saves that were considered “better” than his was Vancouver Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko and his save against Panarin and the Rangers on Nov. 21, which ranked second, and Dallas Stars netminder Braden Holtby, whose sequence of saves against the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 1.
Who made the Save of the Year?
See for yourself ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/PdaH42lAoY
— NHL (@NHL) May 3, 2022
As a goaltender, I can appreciate every save that made this list. Demko’s scorpion save showcased impeccable timing, and Holtby’s sequence was electric.
But how Ilya Sorokin contorted his body, bending while in the butterfly position at the top of his crease and then diving back with the paddle, was absurd.
Fortunately, I was at Madison Square Garden and saw the save firsthand. Not only did I think it was the greatest save of the season, but one of the most incredible saves I have ever seen and will ever see.
The reaction seemed shared by the other reporters in the press box.
After two Islanders, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson, collided at the New York Rangers blue line, the New York Rangers had numbers going the other way. Because of the collision, the Rangers had a two-man advantage entering the Islanders zone, and their passing created a wide-open net for the elite Artemi Panarin.
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 17, 2022
And now for the slow-motion replay.
S 😮 R 😲 K I N pic.twitter.com/Pce9dEuMUp
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 17, 2022
New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin had 16 goals at that point of the season, a guy that knows how to put the puck in the net. Did he hit his target? No, but I don’t think he believed Sorokin had a chance to come close to making the save there.
New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz had some words about his netminder’s save.
“Holy f (mouthed the remaining three letters). It might have been one of the best, if not the best save I’ve seen in a long time, and I’ve been around a long time.”
#Isles HC Barry Trotz on Ilya Sorokin’s diving save:
Holy f (he didn’t say the word). It might have been one of the best, if not the best save I've seen in a long time and I've been around a long time.”
— Stefen Rosner (@stefen_rosner) March 18, 2022
If you have watched Sorokin since his time in the KHL and his two years in the NHL, his skillset has always given him a chance to make a save.
This season, Ilya Sorokin has often bailed the New York Islanders out and ended the year with an NHL-leading 26.71 Goals Saved Above Average (GSAA). This save was just one of the many stellar saves Sorokin made in 2021-22.