Islanders’ Patrick Roy calls Ilya Sorokin his Ferrari, Semyon Varlamov his Cadillac

Ilya Sorokin Islanders
New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin makes a save against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Elmont, N.Y. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — Amidst a decision to change goalies during their first-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders head coach Patrick Roy was reminded of an old analogy made by his former goaltending coach with the Montreal Canadiens, Francois Allaire, while texting with his dad on Thursday morning ahead of Game 3.

Allaire would call Roy’s backup, Brian Hayward, a Cadillac. A smooth, dependable car that helped create one of the best goalie tandems alongside Roy from 1986-1990, featuring three William Jennings Trophies, which is awarded annually to the netminding duo that allows the fewest goals in the NHL.

Roy was Allaire’s Ferrari — a mercurial piece of machinery which, when it’s on, is one of the most brilliant automobiles the world has ever seen. The Hall of Famer was just that during an illustrious playing career headlined by four Stanley Cups, three Vezina Trophies, and three Conn Smythe Awards. That said, a Ferrari that is having problems will provide as much of a headache as any for mechanics and car connoisseurs alike — and Roy was no stranger to headline-grabbing antics during his playing days.

More than three decades later, Roy is dusting off the old analogy to describe the Islanders’ goaltending tandem.

Semyon Varlamov Islanders
New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov (40) watches the puck against the Carolina Hurricanes during the second period in Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup first-round playoff series in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, April 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker)

The Cadillac is Semyon Varlamov, the 35-year-old veteran who provided a hot, steady presence down the stretch with wins in seven of his final eight games to help the Islanders clinch a playoff spot in the penultimate game of the regular season. He got the call for Games 1 and 2 of New York’s playoff series with the Hurricanes and despite posting a .905 save percentage in the face of an onslaught from the aggressive opposition, Roy decided to go with Sorokin for Game 3 in hopes of finding a spark that sometimes, only a Ferrari can provide. 

“I was a Ferrari,” Roy said. “I could be a little more bumpy and all this. So today we’re going with the Ferrari. We had the Cadillac the first two games and we’re going with the Ferrari.”

On his day, Sorokin is one of the best goalies on the planet. The problem for the Islanders is that those days came few and far between this season. After finishing second in the Vezina Trophy voting last season, Sorokin’s save percentage sagged from .924 to .908 while his goals-against average ballooned from 2.34 to 3.01.

Despite contending with season-long struggles, he came on strong during the final stretch. He won three of his last four starts with a .932 save percentage during that stretch.

“Varly is a team guy, so is Ilya,” Roy said. “They’re very important pieces of our team.”

For more on the Islanders, visit AMNY.com