New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz still wasn’t tipping his hand before Thursday night’s meeting with the Montreal Canadiens as to what his plan will be when it comes to easing veteran goaltender Semyon Varlamov back into the fold.
Varlamov has yet to appear for the Islanders this season as he’s finished recovering from a nagging, undisclosed injury that held him out of the first seven games of the season ahead of Thursday’s game in Montreal.
“We’ve talked about it. His starting point is the same,” Trotz said. “He’s going to be a rusty goalie because he’s been out a good length of time.”
Ilya Sorokin has stepped in admirably as the Islanders’ No. 1 goalie — a position he will assume sooner rather than later. Having started each of the team’s first seven games this season, the 26-year-old is 3-2-2 with a .931 save percentage and a 2.26 goals-against average.
Under different circumstances, Varlamov might have already been called into action, specifically during Saturday’s loss in Nashville to the Predators. But given the way Sorokin is playing, Trotz doesn’t want to mess with the second-year man’s “rhythm.”
“No matter what, I’m trying to keep the rhythm of Ilya because he’s the guy that’s not rusty,” Trotz said. “We’re going to get Varly in there. Once he gets in there… for the most part they’ll rotate.”
For now, though, Varlamov’s pushed-back 2021-22 season debut doesn’t appear to be bothering the 33-year-old at all, at least according to Trotz.
“If you know anything about Varly, Ilya has been his man,” Trotz said. “They’re best friends, all that. He understands that… whenever his starting point is, it’s the same. The date might be different, but it’s the same.”