Where would the Islanders be at this very moment without Ilya Sorokin? It’s hard to tell exactly, but the rookie Russian netminder has answered the call when his team needed him most.
With the series tied at two and both Isles wins coming with Sorokin in net, and it’s fair to wonder if we’ll see Semyon Varlamov back in the net anytime soon. Sorokin has stopped 68 of 72 shots in the series and has been the quiet, steady presence in net that the Isles had been accustomed to getting from Varlamov.
“He’s not a pure rookie coming into the NHL or into these high-pressure situations, he’s had a lot of them, just in different leagues. As we’ve brought him along, he just feels very comfortable,” Barry Trotz said after yesterday’s game in a post-game conference on MSG Networks.
With yesterday’s win, Sorokin became the first rookie netminder in Isles history to win his first two playoff games.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) May 22, 2021
He seems very calm in net and that has allowed the rest of the team to feel more comfortable in front of him. The Isles game is predicated on getting above average goaltending, and in games 2 and 3, you could tell the rest of team didn’t feel quite as comfortable after Varly let up soft goals in the opening minutes of both contests.
This was also the first home game Sorokin has played in front of that many fans, nearly 7,000, and you could tell he appreciated the chants from the crowd throughout the afternoon.
“Finally seeing fans at games, it’s very exciting because we play for the fans,” Sorokin said after yesterday’s win.
With Sorokin’s performance yesterday, combined with his game 1 victory, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get the nod the rest of the way.
29 saves for this guy. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/WRRsfRho8C
— x – New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) May 22, 2021
The Islanders have known since they drafted Sorokin in 2014 that he was a special talent, but I don’t think anybody expected his first season in North America to go this well. Varlamov still has 2 years left on his contract after this year, but it’s fair to wonder if we’re beginning to see a changing of the guard in the Isles’ net.
Follow Ethan on Twitter @egreenberg99