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New York Islanders

Semyon Varlamov Earned Right to Start in Game 1 vs. Florida



Semyon Varlamov stops a shot from Jesper Fast

After Wednesday’s win over the New York Rangers, New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz wouldn’t indicate who would start Game 1 against the Florida Panthers on Saturday. However, it would be hard to envision it being anyone other than Semyon Varlamov.

The Russian netminder played 40 minutes of the Islanders 2-1 win over the Blueshirts and made 19 saves. He tracked the puck well and made the big saves when he needed to. Then, of course, there were the dazzling saves in the second period on Jesper Fast from point-blank range.

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Earlier, he displayed his ability to move laterally to stop a shot

All of it adds up to the conclusion that Semyon Varlamov should be between the pipes when the Islanders face the Panthers.

That’s not to take anything away from Thomas Greiss, who played well in his 20 minutes of work on Wednesday. Still, at the end of the day, it’s clear who the Islanders No. 1 goaltender is at the moment.

Historically, both goaltenders have fared well against the Florida Panthers. Greiss is 5-2-1 lifetime against them, including winning both starts he had against Florida this season. Greiss also helped backstop the Islanders to their first playoff series victory in 2016 against the Panthers.

Varlamov has never faced Florida in the postseason, but he holds an 8-3-1 record against them in the regular season. That includes a win over the Panthers this season on Oct. 12.

“My goaltending with Varly and Greisser, we’re pretty set,” Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “You just have to look at the records against Florida, I could throw a dart to the dartboard and I’d feel pretty comfortable. My goaltending is in good shape.”

Isles Insights: Beauvillier, Varlamov Impress in Islanders Exhibition Victory | NYHN+

That bodes well for the Islanders, especially with Game 2 and Game 3 being played on back to back nights. So, the depth is good, but it doesn’t change the fact that Varlamov has earned the nod in the opening game.

Aside from his performance on Wednesday night, there is one stat that gives him the edge, especially with the way the Islanders play. That is the number of “quality starts” he has had during the 2019-20 season.

A goaltender is awarded a “quality start” when they post a save percentage at least as high as the league average for that season or if they allow two goals or less and post a save percentage above that of a replacement-level goalie. Varlamov had 21 “quality starts” during the 2019-20 season, according to Hockey Reference.

Greiss had 15 “quality starts” during the same time, according to Hockey Reference.

Trotz isn’t wrong when he says that he can’t make a bad decision in picking his starter. Both have shown that they can stand up to the challenge.

After Wednesday, however, it’s clear that the starting job Saturday should belong to Semyon Varlamov.

New York Islanders

Islanders to Face Capitals in First Round of Stanley Cup Playoffs




Barry Trotz once told the Washington Capitals that’d have to “go through the Island” to win another Stanley Cup Championship. That will be the case this year after the Capitals defeated the Boston Bruins on Sunday in their final Round Robin game.

It will be the first time the two clubs have seen each other since the Capitals defeated the Islanders in the first round of the 2015 playoffs. Behind the bench back then for the Caps was none other than current Islanders bench boss Barry Trotz.

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“I think it will be a hell of a series,” Trotz said. “Both teams are well equipped to go at each other.”

The series will mark the first time the Islanders and Capitals face one another since the two met in February. The Caps and Isles split the season series 2-2-0 and are 4-4-0 against the Capitals since Trotz took over coaching in 2018.

The Series will not be short of storylines when it begins next week.

The Capitals handed the Islanders one of their worst losses of the regular season this year on Jan. 18. The Islanders had taken a 4-1 lead into the third period at Nassau Coliseum, but the Capitals rallied in the final 20 minutes led by Alex Ovechkin to win the game 6-4.

Trotz is also quite familiar with the Capitals having coached there for four seasons before joining the Islanders just weeks after winning the Stanley Cup with Washington. That makes Trotz quite familiar with the Capitals roster.

“That group as a lot of pedigree. They got a lot of star power,” Trotz said. “They won a championship, so they’re well equipped in a lot of areas. The biggest challenge is to play them even and play them hard. They’ll  do the same because I know a lot about that group.”

The Capitals dropped their first two games of the Round Robin before defeating the Bruins on Sunday afternoon.

Washington had been one of the best teams during the regular season. They went 40-21-8 before the season was halted and had averaged 3.42 goals per game. The Capitals 237 goals were fourth-most in the league during the regular season.

“They’re both really solid teams,” Jean-Gabriel Pageau said when asked about facing either the Capitals and Bruins. “Obviously they had a great season. They’re two teams that play the right way and works hard.”

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New York Islanders

Barry Trotz, Islanders Begin Preparing for First Round As They Wait for Opponent | NYHN+



Barry Trotz

And now they wait.

The Islanders will have some time on their hands before Game 1 of the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs commences next week. At this moment, they don’t even know who their opponent will be.

New York ousted the Florida Panthers on Friday in a 5-1 Game 4 victory to take the series 3-1.

The Islanders could face the Washington Capitals or Boston Bruins, depending on the result of Sunday’s Round Robin contest between the two teams. But New York still has some time to kill before the First Round — whoever it may be against.

The team sat down for meetings on Saturday morning, but they didn’t work out on the ice. The Islanders will return to the ice on Sunday, but drawing up a concrete First Round battle plan won’t start until after Sunday.

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New York Islanders

Rob Simpson: Breaking Down Anders Lee’s Play in Game 4 | NYHN+



Anders Lee

TORONTO — Finishing off a personal triple-feature of captains, we decided to handle a little Anders Lee Shift Diary after tracking Sidney Crosby and Sasha Barkov in earlier games for other branches of Hockey Now. The Isles top line has run a little hot and cold this series, with Lee being the coolest statistically (zero points, +2). Then again, he’s more of the “body” on the top line, with Matt Barzal and Jordan Eberle being the “talent”. That said, it didn’t stop Lee from cashing in with a 20-goal truncated regular season, following 34, 40, and 28 tallies the previous three years. The workhorse has six years left at $7-million per.

The Islanders showed up energetically to close out this series.

1st Period

0:35-1:30: Fast-moving shift. On an Isles dump-in, he raced in on the forecheck and delivered a gratuitous hit on MacKenzie Weegar after he had moved the puck. Anders Lee raced back to the neutral zone for the regroup off the Florida clear. At it again on the forecheck, he tied up Anton Stralman, knocked a puck loose, and created a mild scoring opportunity.

A lengthy break. With his line coming up, Isles went on the PK. They killed off Ryan Pukock’s tripping penalty.

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