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Fans Chant ‘Varly!’ Varlamov Confidence (and Big Saves) Crucial for Islanders

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New York Islanders netminder Semyon Varlamov needed a win in the worst possible way. After failing to record a win in his first six starts of the 2021-22 NHL season, Varlamov accomplished that feat Thursday night against the Boston Bruins.

Varlamov’s first win of the season, on home ice, served as a major confidence boost, as he looks to rewrite his season story.

Three Islanders Takeaways: Lines Roll in Bounce Back Win over Boston

It was vintage Varlamov for New York Thursday night. He did what he had to do to shut the door as he stopped 40 of the 41 shots that came his way. He was ever so close to picking up his first shutout of the season in the process, but a late dagger by Boston with under a minute left to play ended that.

Despite losing the shutout so late in the contest, Varlamov did not let that impact how he felt about his overall performance.

“It feels great. It’s been a long time when I won the last game,” Varlamov said. “So first win for me. It feels amazing, finally. I had a tough stretch but it’s over. So I’m happy for the team.”

“We get two points today and happy for myself.”

For the first time this season, Varlamov allowed fewer goals than the advanced statistics expected. Boston was expected to score 2.74 goals on Thursday but left UBS Arena with just one.

Varlamov denied all 12 high-danger shots he faced and did his part to help his penalty-kill units go three-for-three on the night. Due to his success, he was awarded the first star of the game.

The second period was by far Varlamov’s busiest, but also his best of the night.

He faced 21 shots in the middle frame alone and after an antsy first period by the Islanders’ netminder, it seemed his confidence grew with each saved in the second.

At 15:35 of the second period, Varlamov made his best save of the night, as he robbed Boston forward David Pastrnak in tight. The UBS Arena crowd was loving it and for the first time Thursday, the “Varly” chants broke out.

Later on in the game, the chant came back following a strong save to deny Boston forward Taylor Hall in tight.

Following the game, the crowd let Varlamov hear it one more time as he took his mini lap after being named the first star of the game.

The Islanders fanbase had been on Varlamov this season, with the strong play of Ilya Sorokin playing a significant role. Sorokin showcased an ability to keep the Islanders in games, stealing wins in the process, while Varlamov was struggling to do either.

Varlamov missed training camp prior to the start of this season as he rehabbed a nagging lower-body injury. It has taken him a little bit longer to find his game because of that, and with the play of Ilya Sorokin, his time between the pipes has been limited.

“I missed a lot of games in the beginning of the season and I missed the entire training camp,” Varlamov said.  “But when I played in Minnesota, the first game, even if I missed the training camp, I felt good that game. I didn’t play a lot of games in the last couple of weeks but every time I play I thought I played pretty good. Just didn’t get a chance to win.”

“I felt good about my game, just didn’t get the result.”

Varlamov added that he knew Boston’s game plan early and tried to just adjust accordingly to have success.

“I feel like they were trying to throw everything in the net today and play the rebound,” Varlamov said. “That’s how they play today, that’s their plan. They had what like 40, 41 shots on net. My job was just to track the puck well. I tried to not give up a lot of rebounds, Boys played well defensively today.”

Thanks to Varlamov’s positioning and the help of his defensemen, he was able to adjust accordingly, which led to success. He and his defense only allowed two rebound shots despite the abundance of shots against them.

Trotz mentioned earlier in the week that he was not splitting his netminders’ play an even fifty-fifty, but more three to one in favor of Sorokin.

However, the Islanders are at the point in their season where two points are needed, regardless of who is manning the crease. When Varlamov gets called upon next, he will need to use the confidence from Thursday night’s win and continue to build on his game as the Islanders look to fight their way back into a playoff spot.

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