The injury was sustained in the Islanders’ pre-game warmups at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, only about 25 minutes before puck drop when a high shot from Cal Clutterbuck appeared to catch Varlamov under his goalie mask.
Varlamov went down, was attended to, and then helped off the ice by Islanders trainer Jody Green. The injury gave way for the unfortunately ill-fated NHL debut of Ilya Sorokin, and the Islanders bench debut of backup goalie Cory Schneider.
Islanders fans and pundits alike had believed the warmup shot caught Varlamov in the neck. But, as Staple notes, it appears the shot hit the Islanders goalie a bit higher.
Looking Ahead to Islanders’ Next Week
There is no reason, like none at all, to re-watch the Islanders’ Saturday night performance, or to over-analyze it. The team laid a collective egg. Between bad turnovers in dangerous areas, uncharacteristically allowing odd-man rushes, totally lacking discipline, literally injuring their own goalie in warmups, and a few banana peel moments with the help of the linesmen, the game tape should be burned.
That said, I find it hard to be mad at Cal Clutterbuck. Yes, you don’t shoot high in warmups or practice. But the shot was obviously an accident, and the fans theorizing that numbness in Clutterbuck’s fingers was the cause of the high-rising shot seems like grasping at straws to me.
So what about looking ahead? The Islanders play three games next week: Monday at home versus the Boston Bruins, then Thursday at home against New Jersey, and Sunday against the Devils again, in Newark.
It’s been discussed ad nauseam how important it is for NHL teams to stay healthy this regular season with the condensed schedule.
So, making the assumption that Varly misses a game or two, who do the Islanders hand starting responsibilities off to in net?
Ilya Sorokin’s game against the Rangers looked like he needed some time to acclimate to North American hockey still. The 25-year-old Sorokin was off on his angles, played very deep in his crease, and kicked some rebounds into dangerous areas of the ice. That said, between making his NHL debut in a last-minute start, and the team in front of him looking poor, there is a laundry list of reasons to believe he can bring a better version of himself to his next start.
However, prior to the pregame injury, Barry Trotz appeared to be prepared to give Varlamov his second consecutive start, as Varly led the Islanders onto the ice for warmups Saturday. That could be indicative of Trotz wanting, and being prepared to give Sorokin more time to ready himself for the NHL.
If that’s the case, then it seems likely we’ll get to see Cory Schneider’s Islanders debut on Monday.