Ilya Sorokin finds a next level
In every series preview you'll read, Carolina is given the edge in just about every category - except one - goaltending. For the first time in his career, Ilya Sorokin enters the postseason as the team's No. 1 goaltender. Back in 2021, he was thrown into the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and won all four games in the series as the Isles advanced in six games.
He allowed four goals on 39 shots in Game 1 the next series against the Boston Bruins before Barry Trotz went back to Semyon Varlamov. This time around, Sorokin is expected to carry the load throughout the playoffs, the same way he did during the regular season when he started 60 games, had a .924 save percentage, and led the league with six shutouts.
“Obviously, I think that we think the world of our goaltenders,” Cal Clutterbuck said in the New York Post. “I’m not gonna speak comparatively because I see Raanta and Freddy Andersen maybe once or twice a year, so I have no comment on their comparison. [But] I know that we’ve got two of the best.”
The 27-year-old Sorokin has plenty of playoff experience to lean on, though most of occurred in the KHL. Playing for CSKA Moscow, he was named the KHL Playoff MVP, going 16-4 with a stellar 1.19 GAA and five shutouts through the postseason.
It's unlikely that Sorokin can replicate those numbers, but he'll have to steal a game or two for the Islanders to withstand the pressure from a Hurricanes team that averaged nearly 35 shots a game, third most in the NHL. For the Canes, it's possible, if not likely that we see both Raanta and Andersen in the series, but for the Islanders, there's a feeling they'll go as far as Sorokin can carry them, as was the case for much of the regular season.