Load management is common in the modern landscape of sports – though not very common in the NHL. The New York Islanders have shown some sort of load management during the Trotz era with their goaltending.
For the most part, the games played by the goalies have been split down the middle for the last three seasons. The split time allowed for time to rest and the flexibility to play the netminder who showed the ability to win games (think the Penguins series last playoffs).
This season has started a bit differently, however, with Ilya Sorokin playing nine straight games. We aw last night, why goalie load management will be the key for a strong 2021-22 Islanders season.
New York Islanders: Goalie load management will be key
Sorokin has shown why his arrival in North America was so anticipated. The 26-year-old has three shutouts this season and should have at least two more. Sorokin is bailing the team out when they are trapped in their own end and making timely saves when they are needed the most. Two nights ago against the Winnipeg Jets, he recorded his third shut-out besting 24 shots. Is it a good idea to have him sit?
That is a fair question in regards to Varlamov’s 2021-22 debut but consider this, why not? This is how Trotz runs his goalies, and it should not surprise anyone that Varlamov will be in the net. Remember, Varlamov finished fifth for Vezina voting last season.
Varlamov’s debut has been much anticipated, and the Islanders’ fanbase is excited to have both goalies back and healthy. This tandem can be the best duo in the NHL, and that journey for them started last night. A motivated Varlamov stopped 34 of 37 shots for a 0.919SV% against the Wild.
That’s the value of managing their goalies. Even their backup can give them a 0.920SV% performance. There are few if any teams that can boast that type of quality between the pipes.
Sorokin might be taking over as the team’s number one keeper but that they have to play him to exhaustion when they got a 0.920SV% goalie amongst their ranks.
As the season progresses expect a near 50/50 split between the two keepers before the playoffs begin. Keeping both fresh throughout the year thanks to load management will give the Isles a competitive edge over most of the NHL. And in a league with so much parity, any advantage is a big advantage.