2. Ilya Sorokin’s Performance was Stellar, Varlamov Absent
It seems like every time Ilya Sorokin has a bad performance there are Islanders fans all too eager to throw him to the wolves over it. It also appears evident that every time Sorokin’s game is met with those criticisms he rises to meet the next occasion with a restored brilliance.
That was the case on Tuesday, as Sorokin turned aside 32 of 33 Capitals shots. The only shot that beat him came off the stick of Daniel Sprong in the first minute and a half of regulation, and from there he was absolutely lights out, saving 2.59 goals above expected (GSAx) in the losing effort, according to Natural Stat Trick.
On a better night, Sorokin’s performance might’ve been enough to steal the Islanders a win, even with the team’s horrid recent form. Unfortunately, there probably isn’t a goalie in the world who could’ve salvaged two points from the effort the Isles gave on Tuesday.
Despite that, I think Sorokin again showed us the upper bound limit of his potential on Tuesday. On his best nights, he can be an absolute game-changer, the kind of goalie who can steal you two points if you give any better than the bare minimum effort, which unfortunately is all his team gave him to work with.
As for Semyon Varlamov and his absence from Tuesday’s lineup, Barry Trotz said in the post-game press conference that his starter was scratched due to soreness, which wouldn’t be a problem going forward.
That is good news, as though Sorokin has been great at times this season, his consistency has sometimes been troublesome, (to be expected in his rookie season) and Varly seems the likely candidate to receive starting duties in the playoffs. That is, if the Islanders can limp across the finish line to make it there.