The NY Islanders and Patrick Roy need to ride the hot hand of Semyon Varlamov

Nashville Predators v New York Islanders
Nashville Predators v New York Islanders / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

They say you can never have too much goaltending.

In many ways, the predicament New York Islanders head coach Patrick Roy finds himself in is one of luxury. Sitting in third place in the Metro with five games to play, Roy will need to decide whether he should ride 35-year-old Semyon Varlamov off his best start of the season or go back to franchise goaltender Ilya Sorokin on Tuesday night against the New York Rangers.

Varly is 5-1-1 over his last seven shots and stopped all 41 shots he faced on Saturday night for the 41st shutout of his career. “He was outstanding. He looked so confident out there. It looked like it was an easy game, and I was happy to see him play that way,” Roy said. “He won the game for us tonight.”

Per Natural Stat Trick, the expected goals for Nashville were 4.98, making the shutout that much more impressive. The Predators had 22 high-danger chances to the Islanders 8. Varlamov simply stole two crucial points for the Islanders, something that hasn't happened as often as expected this season.

The Isles took back-to-back penalties in the third period, and their goaltender needed to be their best player and was exactly that. Playing their fourth game in six nights, the Islanders had too many turnovers, leading to high-quality chances negated by Varlamov.

To their credit, the team showed a willingness to sacrifice their bodies in a way they haven't all season, blocking a season-high 33 shots. “Guys blocked a lot of shots from the especially from [Roman] Josi,” Varlamov said. “He was shooting all night tonight, so the PK was a key for us tonight.”

“They defended their blue paint really well,” Predators coach Andrew Brunette said. “I thought we did a lot of good things, all through the ice, all through the game. Maybe a little bit sluggish early, but got going and couldn’t buy a goal late in the game.”

Varlamov is the team's steadier and more consistent goaltender right now. He's seeing the puck exceedingly well, has rebound control, and is putting himself in the perfect position to stop shots. Meanwhile, Sorokin, despite wins in his last two starts, is still susceptible to allowing a bad goal and appears to be fighting the puck a bit as he builds back his confidence.

In his post-game comments, Roy acknowledged that Varlamov was the reason they won the game. The two have a history in Colorado together, and Roy is more than aware of how well Varly can play when he gets hot. Getting two points is the first priority; getting Sorokin back to his dominant self comes next. For that reason, Varlamov should be back in the net on Tuesday night.