The New York Islanders were a desperate hockey team entering Game 4 of their first-round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. A big question mark entering Game 4 was their goaltending. Ilya Sorokin was the starter in Game 1 and won that game for the Islanders. However, head coach Barry Trotz went to a healthy Semyon Varlamov and it proved to be costly.
What was Trotz going to do entering Game 4? And of course, the coach was not going to tip his hand prior to the game. But as the Islanders took warmups for Game 4, it was the youngster Ilya Sorokin leading the team out on the ice. This move turned out to be the right one as the Islanders evened the series at 2-2 with a 4-1 victory in Game 4. But with the performance in Game 1 and now in Game 4, this is Sorokin’s net going forward.
Ilya Sorokin Has Taken The Reigns For The Islanders
There were a lot of question marks entering Game 2 of the series against the Penguins. Sorokin had played so well against Pittsburgh in Game 1, that it was odd for him not to get a look in Game 2. Sorokin stopped 39 of 42 shots faced. That should have given Sorokin another start on the road. Even though Varlamov was healthy, who says he gets his job back. Sorokin should have played Game 2. He played well enough to earn another start. What matters most is he out outplayed Tristan Jarry and got the win. The Penguins had a difficult time solving Sorokin for most of the season. The three goals that beat Sorokin in Game 1 were very good shots, but for the most part, he played a solid game.
Sorokin was very calm, cool, and collected in between the pipes as he handled the pressure better than Varlamov did. And while Varlamov did not have a bad game in Game 2, he gave up two goals early that cost his team the victory. And in Game 3, Varlamov’s fate was pretty much sealed after giving up five goals, three of which he should have by his standards. Again, Barry Trotz would not tip his hand after that game, but he was certainly thinking about making a goalie change by the way he answered certain questions. One thing is for sure Varlamov’s performance sure was a factor in why the veteran goalie did not start Game 4. Besides looking for a spark, Sorokin also gives the Islanders the best chance to win.
While Varlamov was the Islanders MVP during the regular season, the Islanders brought Sorokin over for a reason. He is showing why he can handle the big stage. Sometimes it is the most unlikeliness of heroes who helps a team win in the playoffs. And right now the Islanders current hero is Ilya Sorokin.
Islanders Must Ride Sorokin
After his performance in Game 4, the Islanders must ride Sorokin until he loses. And even then, if Sorokin performances well, he should be given the opportunity to redeem himself. During Game 4, Sorokin looked strong in his net and his rebound control was excellent. The Penguins came out flying as they looked to extend their lead in the series. Pittsburgh had scored early in Games 2 and 3 and was looking to do the same. Kasperi Kapanen was denied by Sorokin 59 seconds into the game. Sorokin stood tall making quality saves giving his team confidence to start playing their game.
With Sorokin dialled in, the Islanders went on the offence as they scored a pair of goals in the second period. Sorokin then stood tall again stopping Sidney Crosby on a phenomenal goal mouth scramble in front of the net. As previously mentioned Sorokin was just so relaxed in between the pipes for the Islanders. The Islanders could play their game without worrying if the guy back there would be giving up a bad goal or two. Not only did Sorokin feed off the crowd in the Coliseum but so did the team. It is a shame Sorokin could not get the shutout, but he definitely earned himself another start in Game 5 and maybe even more.
There should be no surprises going forward. Ilya Sorokin is the starting goalie for the Islanders. And Barry Trotz needs to ride him through the rest of the series. If not the rest of the playoffs. Of note, Sorokin becomes the second rookie goaltender in Islanders history to win multiple Stanley Cup Playoff games joining Glenn “Chico’ Resch. There is a reason he needs to start going forward.
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