DENVER–After a strong showing against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday night, stopping 36 of 38 shots, New York Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov left the rink with 6:22 to go in the third period and did not return.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) December 18, 2022
Nothing seemed to happen while in goal, and for Semyon Varlamov to leave a game where he was brilliant was a cause for concern.
Was he dehydrated? Did he cramp up?
Those were the initial thoughts.
Ilya Sorokin came in and only faced one shot as the Islanders got the job done, scoring two empty net goals on their way to a 5-2 win.
After the game, New York Islanders head coach Lane Lambert did not have an answer as to what was ailing Varlamov as he left the ice.
“I don’t…I have no idea,” Lambert said. “Yeah, I don’t know. I was surprised when he came off.”
Without a Sunday practice, there was no new information on Varlamov’s status, but one can use context clues that it may be a more significant injury, as the Islanders recalled goaltender Cory Schneider from the Bridgeport Islanders on an emergency basis.
That means Varlamov will not be available on Monday night when the Islanders face off against his former club, the Colorado Avalanche.
In 15 appearances with Bridgeport, Schneider is 10-3-2, with a 2.51 GAA with a .921 SV%. He will serve as the backup for Sorokin until Varlamov can return.
Despite not starting the season as the Islanders’ starter, Varlamov has been brilliant as of late and, with Sorokin’s struggles, was earning himself more playing time.
Over his last five games, he has yet to lose in regulation (4-0-1) with a 2.21 GAA with a 926 SV%. His loss, for any time, would be just another brutal injury for the Islanders to sustain.
For the time being, Sorokin needs to find a way to reset and turn his season around after starting this season off as a Vezina candidate.
Over his last five starts, the 27-year-old Russian netminder has gone winless, with an .876 SV% and a 3.46 GAA. His GSAA is a negative 4.15, as he has struggled to make saves at critical times.
His last start, a 5-4 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Friday, was his worst showing of the season.
With how well Varlamov was playing, Lambert could use him and allow Sorokin to find his game. But with Varlamov going down and no information on when he might be back, Sorokin’s bounce back needs to come sooner than later for the Islanders as they try to not only stay in a wild-card spot but increase the gap between them and the teams currently on the outside looking in.
The Islanders will be on the ice for morning skate at 11:30 AM MST, and we should get more of an update on Varlamov shortly after.