If you watch New York Islanders hockey, you know just how talented netminder Ilya Sorokin is. Despite the New York Islanders’ struggles in 2021-22, Sorokin was a bright spot, showcasing that he could not only be a starter at the NHL level but could also be one of the best netminders in the sport.
New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal sat down with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek of the ‘32 Thoughts’ podcast during NHL media week up in Vegas, answering a ton of questions, including one’s about his teammate, Ilya Sorokin.
“Do you think this is the season where the cat gets out of the bag about how good Ilya Sorokin is?” Jeff Marek asked Barzal.
“I think the cat is a little bit already out of the bag,” Barzal shared.
“Those that know, know,” Marek added.
The hosts began talking about how good Igor Shesterkin was in 2021-22, before they segwayed to their conversation on Sorokin. No one can deny what Shesterkin did last season, as he won the Vezina.
But Sorokin is right up there with Shesterkin.
“Igor had a great year but I think when, you know, if you watch Ilya Sorokin practice, like, this guy is so good. Like he makes saves, he’s so flexible,” Barzal shared. “I mean, he’s just like, the flexibility, the saves he can make, the one he made on [Artemi] Panarin last year, I think it was the save of the year.”
“Lok at the position his body’s in. That guy’s a ninja,” Barzal said while watching a reply of Sorokin’s save on New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin.
“He’s one of those goalies that I always love, where whistle blows, [you] grab a puck and you want to go a little breakaway with the goalie, and some goalies will skate out on the ice and go get water, and he’ll [Sorokin] take every shot.”
“He’ll be the last guy on the ice, so fun to have, but I think we know inside our locker room how good he is.”
Mathew Barzal then went on to explain the coaching change and how Barry Trotz’s defensive style is expected to remain with Lane Lambert at the helm and how important Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov to the team bouncing back in 2022-23:
“I think him [Lane Lambert] and Barry [Trotz] obviously have some similar philosophies, like that’s a good thing,” Barzal said. “Like that’s a really good thing. I think Lane’s a really smart hockey guy. I think he really knows the game well and I think winning culture, you need to be defensive, like, you need to have good defensive structure, and Barry, Barry did a great job of bringing that into our team because we were kind of lacking that a little bit. “And it made us successful, so I think that’s a staple in our culture, like having good defense.”
“But I would say when you have such good goaltending, you can rely on them for a big save here or there. Maybe a defenseman gets a little active and then maybe we do give up a little bit of an odd-man rush, you know, Sorokin makes a huge save or Varlamov makes a big save.”