2. Semyon Varlamov’s run of dominance at MSG
Semyon Varlamov did it again. For the second time this season, the 32-year-old Russian goalie has shutout the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Varlamov pushed aside 30 Rangers shots en route to his second shutout of the Blueshirts in as many games. Including the Islanders’ 1-0 win over the Boston Bruins, this shutout is Varlamov’s third total during the 2020-21 season.
Varlamov’s cool confidence was apparent throughout his start. He was tracking pucks well through traffic when he had to, getting strong first pushes in order to move quickly laterally, and was in strong positioning all night.
The MSG+ broadcast mentioned on several occasions just how assured Varlamov appeared in his crease tonight. He challenged shooters at the top of the crease, rarely having to make ten-bell saves because his positioning and angle work made the stops often appear routine.
At the same time, Varly was huge in the clutch moments as well. He stonewalled Artemi Panarin on a breakaway after the Rangers winger managed to get behind Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock, one of the rare fumbles from that pairing in this game. Not too long after that nervy breakaway save, Varly came up big again, shutting down a Rangers two-on-one featuring Mike Zibanejad.
With the win, Varlamov’s record improves to 5-2-1. It’s Varly’s fifth Quality Start, and he’s saved 204 of 219 shots faced during 2020-21.
Varlamov has seen his ups and his downs this season. As previously stated, Monday’s win is his fifth Quality Start, a stat developed by Rob Vollman which measures starts by a goaltender with a SV% greater than average SV% for the season. However, he also has two Really Bad Starts, another stat by Vollman which indicates the number of starts for netminders with a SV% below .850.
Varlamov is 4-1-0 in his Quality Starts, with the sole loss coming against the Washington Capitals on January 26’s 3-2 decision in the nation’s capital. The Islanders will need more strong starts from Varly, and Ilya Sorokin, going forward in order to maintain success. They got just that on Monday, and they picked up two points because of it.