2. Semyon Varlamov Posted Another Quality Start
The New York Islanders have been able to consistently rely upon Semyon Varlamov throughout 2020-21. From their five-game losing skid to this recent run of very strong play, Varly has backstopped the Islanders through most games, and done so with a great degree of quality.
Now, that isn’t to say Varlamov has been immune to a clunker here and there. There was a point not too long ago in which Islanders fans were becoming concerned Varlamov was fatiguing due to Barry Trotz riding his starter a little too hard.
While that concern was fair and justified, Varlamov’s start on Tuesday should serve to put some of those nerves at ease.
Varly was spectacular for the Islanders, saving 1.14 Goals Above Expected, including seven high-danger shots. Not the least of which was an absolute jaw dropper against David Krejci.
Tuesday’s start, which saw Varlamov post a .970 SV% by saving 32 of 33 SOG, was his 14th Quality Start of the 2020-21 season. Aside from the spectacular save against Krejci, he turned aside several shots from the inner slot against the Bruins best shooters in David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand.
Right now there’s certainly a case to be made that Varlamov is en route to posting one of his best seasons in the NHL. His SV% and GAA certainly have looked that way during 2020-21, and most importantly his 3.49 GSAx, or Goals Saved Above Expected, has been trending upwards since late February.
Varly’s 2013-14 season was without a doubt his best in the NHL. He posted a .927 SV% and a ludicrous 19.14 GSAx over 60 starts and 63 appearances.
And yeah, that season will probably still be better than this one. Varlamov finished second in Vezina Trophy voting in that season with the Colorado Avalanche. He likely won’t get as close to the Vezina this year, as Tampa’s Andrei Vasilevskiy and Vegas’s Marc-André Fleury are having ridiculous seasons for their respective teams.
But, that doesn’t really matter so long as Varly continues to play the way he has through his first 19 starts of 2020-21. If he and Ilya Sorokin can hold form through to the end of the regular season and beyond, the Islanders will have a chance at competing for the trophy that really matters anyway.