Everything that could have gone wrong basically did just that for the New York Islanders in their 5-0 loss on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.
And it all started during warmups.
Cal Clutterbuck’s wrist shot leading up to puck drop caught Islanders No. 1 goalie Semyon Varlamov up high around what appeared to be the neck area — right under the chin of his goalie mask — forcing him out of the rivalry tilt less than 20 minutes before game time.
It forced the Islanders to thrust rookie Ilya Sorokin into action for his NHL debut, giving the 25-year-old little notice or time to prepare; hardly the start many were expecting for the highly-touted Russian prospect seven years after he was drafted.
He faced just 27 saves on 32 shots, letting up a few soft goals but ultimately languishing behind a defense that left him out to dry on more occasions than not. It was a performance that Islanders head coach Barry Trotz described as “junk.”
“We didn’t help him,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “Too many turnovers. We lost puck battles and gave them Grade A opportunities. We hung him out to dry at times.”
It remains to be seen if Varlamov will miss time, but Arthur Staple of The Athletic reported that it’s a jaw issue for the 32-year-old, who posted a shutout of the Rangers on opening night in an Islanders 4-0 win. Staple added, though, that there has been “no word on the severity or how he feels.”
The Islanders face the Boston Bruins in their home opener on Monday evening. If Varlamov is unable to go, the expectation is that Sorokin will be in net with veteran Cory Schneider backing him up.