The New York Islanders have one of the rarest luxuries in the NHL. They have a current Vezina trophy favorite they can call up off the bench.
For Game 2 against the Boston Bruins, Trotz handed the crease back over to Semyon Varlamov from understudy Ilya Sorokin. He made no other changes to his lineup. All the forward lines remain the same, including the top line. And the defensive pairings stayed intact.
The only change is in the crease.
New York Islanders give Semyon Varlamov crease for Game 2
Ilya Sorokin earned his start in Game 1 against the Bruins. The 25-year-old rookie was one of the main factors in the Islanders six-game series win over the Penguins. In his four wins against the Pens, Sorokin averaged a 0.943SV% and 1.95GAA. Stunning.
Varlamov wasn’t as stunning in his two games of the opening round. He wasn’t the reason the Islanders dropped Games 2 and 3, but he certainly didn’t help them in those games either.
Again, it’s a rare luxury for a team to be able to tap in a Vezina Trophy favorite at this point of the season. Varlamov has been excellent all year long, minus those two games against the Penguins. Perhaps he was still sporting that injury that took him out of the season finale against the Bruins?
But now that he’s had time to sit and watch, and with the Islanders needing a big response after dropping Game 1, Varlamov will get his chance at redemption.
And it’s not a bad call. In six starts against the Bruins this year Varlamov holds a 5-1-0 record while averaging a 0.943SV% and 1.93GAA (including one shutout). It’s not as if Barry Trotz is throwing a hail-Marry here in the hopes it works. Varlamov has a track record of being his best against the Boston Bruins. He’s proved that all year.
On the Lineup
I was sure Barry Trotz would move things around with his forward group for today’s game. Specifically on the top line. Barzal has been invisible this entire postseason. Clearly, some help on the top line could do him some good.
The message here from Trotz is that Barzal is going to have to step up his game to where with the tools he has. Hopefully, that works, though I have little faith that it will.