Islanders: Five key players that need to step up vs Florida Panthers
Signed by the Isles to a four-year, $20 million ($5 million AAV) contract this past July 1st, Semyon Varlamov started off in a goalie rotation with Thomas Greiss as one would start one game and the other would start the next.
Eventually, Varly got too hot to continue to do this and he took the starting goalie position. He would finish the season with 39 games started (compared to Greiss’ 28), .914 SV%, 2.62 GAA, and .538 QS%.
With this in mind, I was expecting him to start for the Isles in their series against the Panthers, and after his performance against the New York Rangers in their exhibition game on Wednesday, July 29th, there’s no doubt he’ll be starting game 1.
However, Varly needs to be on his A-game against Florida. Like I said earlier, the Panthers have a top-10 offense in the NHL so Varlamov will most likely have to make some tough saves and will be called upon often.
With Adam Pelech back in the lineup, I expect the Isles to be back to their old ways and shut down the Panthers’ top lines. However, they do tend to have some slip-ups, as everyone makes mistakes, so Varly better be ready for this and make some tough saves.
If Varlamov isn’t his best, the Isles are toast. Greiss is a solid option if Varly can’t meet expectations, but he’s been shaky this year — shakier than Varlamov.