NY Islanders: 5 reasons why Ilya Sorokin should be a Vezina Finalist

New York Islanders v Edmonton Oilers
New York Islanders v Edmonton Oilers / Lawrence Scott/GettyImages
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Sorokin entered the season as the clear No.1 goaltender for the first in his career, with veteran Semyon Varlamov as the backup. It was always expected that Sorokin would have the lion's share of the starts, but even with an accomplished backup as an option for head coach Lane Lambert, the workload for Sorokin was even heavier than expected.

Ilya Sorokin, Semyon Varlamov
Anaheim Ducks v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

GM Lou Lamoriello elected not to trade pending UFA (unrestricted free agent) Varlamov at the deadline, but the 35-year-old only started two games after the deadline as the Isles rode Sorokin to the playoffs and into their first-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The 27-year-old appeared in 62 games this season (after 52 in 2021-22), starting 60 of them, and became the first Islanders goaltender to appear in 60 or more games since Rick DiPietro did it in three consecutive seasons from 2005-06 to 2007-08.

"It's really good experience. I never play in regular season 60 games, and it's not easy," Sorokin said via The Hockey News. "And if you have bad physical conditions, it's no chance to play in this league". 

The 60-game mark is a rare feat in Islanders history, having only been done by four other goaltenders (Ron Hextall (93-94), Tommy Salo (97-98), Chris Osgood (01-02), and DiPietro). Sorokin has now played in 136 games between the pipes for the Islanders, breaking a tie with Varlamov on the last game of the regular season and tying Ronnie Melanson for ninth place in team history.

"I felt okay (with the playing time)," Sorokin added. "So sometimes was days when I feel not good, but I think it's normal situation,"