Semyon Varlamov was not on the ice for the New York Islanders first day of practice for the playoffs, but head coach Barry Trotz wasn’t too concerned.
Trotz called Wednesday’s absence a maintenance day for the veteran netminder, who had exited the Islanders season finale in Boston after two periods with a strain. Ilya Sorokin and Cory Schneider were the two netminders taking part in practice, according to Newsday’s Andrew Gross, and Trotz said that Varlamov was day-to-day.
“I don’t have any concerns that he’s not going to be ready for the series,” Trotz said. “We’re just being cautious. He worked on some treatment. He did some stuff like that and we’ll see where he feels tomorrow. By all indications, there’s a good chance that he’ll be on (the ice).”
Semyon Varlamov has been one of the biggest reasons for the Islanders’ success this season. The Russian netminder finished the regular season with a 19-11-4 record, a .929 save percentage and a 2.04 goals-against average.
His seven shutouts this year were a new career-best for the Islanders goalie.
He will play a prominent role in whether or not the Isles make it back to the Eastern Conference Finals or further, just like he did last year. Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greis shared the net last season during the Islanders’ first trip to the conference finals since 1993.
Trotz worked both goaltenders into the Islanders playoff run last season without any issues. It’s why Trotz feels that Varlamov is so well equipped for the postseason this year.
“Of all the goaltenders in this series, I think Varly obviously has the most experience,” Trotz said. “Varly is low maintenance and he’s been around a bit. There is something to be said about the experience. He knows that things are done for the now. … He’s calm, he’s had some experiences good and bad in the playoffs. It can’t hurt having that experience.”
The NHL has still not set a date or time for when the Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins will begin their first-round series. It is expected that the series will begin on either Saturday or Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Monday was the Islanders’ first practice since they lost to the Boston Bruins in overtime on Monday night. The lines and defensive pairings were the ones that the Islanders had featured down the stretch, with Ross Johnston, Travis Zajac and Michael Dal Colle serving as extras, according to Gross.
Braydon Coburn and Thomas Hickey were the extra defensive pair.
“The (lines) that you saw in the last two games those are the types of lines you feel most comfortable with,” Trotz said.