New York Islanders: Semyon Varlamov picks up where he left off after injury scare

Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders.(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Semyon Varlamov #40 of the New York Islanders.(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Semyon Varlamov is already in midseason form for the New York Islanders.

Despite taking a puck to the neck on Saturday, Semyon Varlamov has opened the 2020-21 NHL season with back-to-back shutouts, propelling the New York Islanders to a winning start.

Coming into the season, the New York Islanders were looking to be more of an offensive threat while continuing to play the lockdown defense that Head Coach Barry Trotz had instilled since his arrival a few years ago.

However, after putting up four goals on opening night, the Islanders’ offense has been underwhelming, with just one goal over their last seven periods.

But, because of goaltender Semyon Varlamov, the Islanders find themselves with a winning record (2-1-0).

Yesterday against the Boston Bruins, the veteran netminder was phenomenal, as he stole the win for his team. With no offense in sight (17 SOG), Varlamov knew if they were going to win this game, he would have to be the reason why.

After sixty minutes of what felt like Playoff hockey, Varlamov skated off with a 27-save shutout, his second shutout in as many tries this season.

Semyon Varlamov is creating history early on in 2020-21

He made history twice in the 1-0 victory.

After setting the longest Playoff shutout streak in franchise history at 138:17, he broke Rick DiPietro’s streak for most consecutive minutes to start a season without allowing a goal.

This strong performance came just under 48 hours after he took a puck to the neck in warmups on Saturday night.

The shot off Cal Clutterbuck’s stick forced Varlamov to miss that game, as the team fell 5-0 to their cross-town rival New York Rangers as the whole team struggled, including rookie netminder Ilya Sorokin.

The injury was a scary one, as no one knew the extent of it until Barry Trotz told reporters Monday morning that both goaltenders were available for the game.

In yesterday’s post-game press conference, Varlamov explained what happened during warmups.

In a season like this, every win seems like four points. The Boston Bruins came into the game yet to score a 5-on-5 goal through their first two games. They did have plenty of chances to do so yesterday, except Varlamov just got in the way.

With the way Sorokin and the team played on Saturday, Varlamov’s play was monumental for the team’s confidence. The Bruins had not lost on Long Island in eight years, but J-G Pageau’s late goal and the brick wall that is Varlamov was enough to end that nightmarish streak for the Islanders.

As the defense was astronomically better last night than Saturday, Varlamov still had to stand tall, especially early in the game after a slow start from his team, as well as late in the game when the Bruins made a push.

Varlamov only faced five high-danger chances during this one, compared to the eight he faced on Opening Night, but he did his job in denying them all. The reason for his success last night was his aggressiveness, getting out to cut off the angles, as well as his ability to control each and every rebound.

Yeah, there were a few times where he may not have seen a shot due to a screen but, fortunately, those shots did not make their way into the back of the net.

This performance was also very important for rookie Sorokin to witness. He failed to do all the things that Varlamov did well last night. While nerves and horrid defense in front of him did not help his cause, watching Varlamov’s game and discussing it further at practice will benefit his growth.

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The New York Islanders have a few days off before they face the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, a game Semyon Varlamov will surely be back in net for as he tries to keep his impressively hot start going.