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Islanders: It was the right call to play Semyon Varlamov in Game 2

UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - MAY 08: Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New Jersey Devils at the Nassau Coliseum on May 08, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - MAY 08: Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the New Jersey Devils at the Nassau Coliseum on May 08, 2021 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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With a strong performance in Game 1, it seemed that Ilya Sorokin would get a start in Game 2 for the New York Islanders. Sorokin let in three goals, but he was a big reason the Isles had a chance to push for overtime and eventually a win.

But in Game 2, Barry Trotz had Semyon Varlamov start between the pipes for the Islanders. And, that was somehow a contentious issue online.

Look, it was the right call to put Varlamov in nets for the second game.

Barry Trotz was right to start Varlamov for the New York Islanders in Game 2

And I know that take may not sit well with some because of what transpired just 3:22 into Game 2. The opening goal for the Penguins was weak. Whether it was slightly deflected off of Adam Pelech‘s stick or not it should not have resulted in a goal.

But let’s not act as if that goal was what decided the game or a reason why Semyon Varlamov should have sat.

There were another 56 minutes of hockey to play and for the Islanders to push their game on the Penguins. And that didn’t happen until perhaps the second period. The Penguins were able to force the Isles into a run-and-gun game, a type of game that perfectly suited the Pens. Varlamov had to make a number of key stops to keep his team in the game.

Through 60 minutes he faced 45 shots on goal and 27 scoring chances. He stopped six of the seven high-danger chances he faced (that one he didn’t was the Jeff Carter slot shot). Varlamov was excellent on the night after that ‘flub’ in the opening minutes of the game.

We can’t forget that it’s Semyon Varlamov’s crease. In 36 games (35 starts) in the regular season, Varly held a 35-19-11 record while averaging a 0.929SV% and 2.04GAA. Those are Vézina worthy numbers. When Varlamov is healthy he plays. After sitting out a few games he was ready to go for Game 2, so in he went for the Isles.

There’s no reason for Barry Trotz to abandon his starting goalie who’s been elite throughout the season because Sorokin had a strong game. Varlamov has earned the right to the crease when he’s healthy. Varlamov will be back between the posts for Game 3 on Long Island and deservedly so.

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