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New York Islanders

Tandem Strength Trending Upward As Semyon Varlamov Settles In



New York Islanders netminders Semyon Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin embrace after a win

There were not many positives in the New York Islanders 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday, but the play of netminder Semyon Varlamov stood out as he put together a strong performance.

In the loss, Semyon Varlamov stopped 35 of the 36 shots that came his way and allowed the Islanders every chance to get back into the game.

“At the end of the day, it’s a one-goal game,” Islanders captain Anders Lee said following the loss. “Varly gave us a great chance, a great opportunity, and we come up short at the end.”

The lone goal Varlamov allowed came after Islanders’ rookie defenseman Robin Salo lost his man Tom Wilson, who was left all alone in the slot.

Varlamov was credited with stopping all seven high-danger shots that came his way, with Wilson’s shot being classified as a medium-danger chance.

But when any NHL forward is given that much time to pick a corner, most will bury.

The Islanders were outshot in each period of the 2-0 loss, as Varlamov stopped 15 of 16 shots in the first, all 10 in the second, and all 10 in the third.

Washington scored on their fifth shot on goal, as Varlamov stopped 31 straight shots to end the contest.

Varlamov entered Saturday’s contest on a win streak of his own.

He picked up his first win against the Boston Bruins back on Dec. 16 and then his second on Dec. 30 against the Buffalo Sabres.

After 16 days between his last outing, Varlamov showed very little rust in the contest.

Over his last three contests, Varlamov has stopped 111 of the last 114 shots that have come his way, with a 1.02 GAA and a .973 SV%.

Although the overall quantity of saves is important, quality saves are what the Islanders need going forward, and Varlamov has made vital saves on opponents’ grade “A” chances as of late, something he failed to do early on this season.

Semyon Varlamov has denied 25 of the last 26 high-danger chances he has faced (.962 SV%).

It was a slow start to the season for Varlamov, who dropped his first seven contests of the season (0-6-1).

With no training camp and a late start to his season due to a nagging injury, it took Varlamov some time to find the game that he often showcased back in 2020-21.

Last season, Varlamov was one of the best netminders in all of hockey as he posted a .929 SV%, with a 2.04 GAA, and led the NHL with seven shutouts.

Over the last five games (3-1-1), Varlamov and Ilya Sorokin have combined for a .938 SV% with a 1.77 GAA.

With the number of games the Islanders have to make-up, the ability to run both goaltenders on any given night becomes a critical part of how this season will turn out.

If the Islanders are going to play all 82 games this season, there’s the potential for a handful of back-to-back games before the season comes to a close.

As of now, the New York Islanders have eight more back-to-backs to play, and that’s before the league reschedules their five postponed contests.

Even if the rescheduled games do not create more back-to-back scenarios, the Islanders will have limited time off.

Even though the Islanders have been able to get healthy on their latest 12-day break before their contest this past Thursday, the Islanders’ stamina will be tested following the All-Star Break when their schedule is bound to pick up.

The Islanders will need their netminders to not only keep them in games but steal some games if the Islanders want to get back to the postseason for a fourth-straight year.

The Islanders will play a back-to-back against the divisional rival Philadelphia Flyers starting Monday, Jan. 17.

Philadelphia sits five points ahead of New York in the standings, with seven more games played.

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