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Islanders vs. Penguins Preview: Comparing the goalies

May 16, 2021, 9:31 AM ET [305 Comments]
Ben Shelley
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The New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins begin their first round playoff series today and leading up to Game One, I’ve been looking at how the two teams compare against one another in different areas. This final article will look at how the teams compare in net.

This was Tristan Jarry’s first season as a legitimate starter, after the Penguins dealt Matt Murray to Ottawa in the offseason. Jarry played in 39 games, posting a .909 save percentage but ranked just 30th in the league in goals saved above average, according to HockeyReference.com (min. 10 games played). He had been dealing with an injury but it looks as though he’ll be good to go for today.

As a backup, the Penguins have Casey DeSmith, who posted a slightly better .912 save percentage in 20 games. He provides pretty solid depth and could step in if needed, though his status is uncertain due to a lower-body injury.

The Islanders, on the other hand, have gotten great goaltending this season. Semyon Varlamov had a .929 save percentage, which was higher than any other goalie who played in at least 25 games this season and he also ranks first in the league in goals saved above average (according to HockeyReference.com). Varlamov was also tied for the league lead in shutouts, managing seven shutouts in 36 games. He too had been dealing with an injury but should be ready for Game One.

New York can also rely on rookie Ilya Sorokin, who took on a larger role as the season progressed, playing in 22 games overall. He posted an impressive .918 save percentage with three shutouts and he gives the team a solid secondary option in net.

While the Penguins had pretty average goaltending, New York’s goalie tandem was one of the best in the league this season. While the team’s defense plays a factor in the goaltending success as well, Semyon Varlamov had an outstanding season and there isn’t much of a debate that New York heads into the series with an advantage in net.

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Which team do you think has the advantage in net?


Islanders' goaltending remains solid despite team's recent struggles
Weekly Recap: Islanders Edition (May 3)
Looking at the numbers behind the Islanders’ offensive struggles
Weekly Recap: Islanders Edition (May 9)
Playoff Preview: Islanders vs. Penguins
Islanders vs. Penguins Preview: Comparing the forwards
Islanders vs. Penguins Preview: Comparing the defenses
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