While the New York Islanders have lacked consistency over the last few weeks, one area that the team shouldn't need to worry about heading into the playoffs is their goaltending.
Over the last six games, the Islanders have allowed just nine goals (though six of them came in a loss to the Washington Capitals). Of those six games, New York has also allowed a goal or less in five of them. Obviously, it’s somewhat frustrating the Islanders have won just three of those six games but I’ve already talked about the team's scoring issues.
Sorokin and Varlamov have combined for nine shutouts this year, which is more than any other team in the league. This means they Islanders have earned a shutout in nearly 20 per cent of the games they’ve played and for reference, only five teams in the league have at least five shutouts. Additionally, the Islanders have allowed one goal or less in 17 of their 50 games.
It’s certainly important to factor in context, as the Islanders are one of the league’s best defensive teams. New York is also allowing about three shots per game less than they did last season, on average. While it’s usually not like New York is relying on their goaltenders to keep them in the game, however, both Sorokin and Varlamov have generally been very sharp when they’ve had to be, especially over the last stretch of games.
In Varlamov’s case, he’s seen his save percentage jump from a .914 last year to a .928 this year, with largely the same defense group and overall roster. Sorokin, on the other hand, is still in his first year in the league and even behind a team with a solid defensive structure, a .918 save percentage is very impressive.
The duo should provide stability for the Islanders in the playoffs and with two solid netminders, the team has options. Varlamov and Sorokin have been one of the league's best tandems this year and despite the team stumbling a bit recently, their goaltending should be an asset in the postseason.
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Do you expect the Islanders to have both of their goalies starting games in the playoffs?