The New York Islanders have the luxury of having two strong netminders in Ilya Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov, two goaltenders that could very well combine to be the strongest duo in the NHL when this season comes to an end.
While Semyon Varlamov looks more like himself this season, Ilya Sorokin is showing that he is one of the elite netminders in the NHL and could very well be on his way to capturing his first Vezina Trophy of his career with how well he has played out of the gate.
In 10 appearances, nine starts, Ilya Sorokin has posted a 2.20 GAA, with a .933 SV% and one shutout.
Out of 42 goalies who have played over 300 minutes this season, Sorokin’s save percentage ranks fifth, his goals-against average ranks 10th, his GSAA (8.19) ranks sixth, and his High-Danger SV% is ninth-best at .974 percent per Natural Stat Trick.
Due to his athleticism and anticipation, Sorokin makes saves on a nightly basis that the average goaltender doesn’t make. For his teammates, having him in between the pipes is a pleasure and a luxury.
NYI Hockey Now went around the New York Islanders locker room following Thursday’s morning skate and asked a few players if they could pick one word to describe Ilya Sorokin, what word would they choose.
Here are some of the answers:
Matt Martin: “I mean, just sheer athleticism. I think he’s as athletic of a goalie as you’re going to find. He’s good positionally, but he makes the saves that you don’t expect a goalie to make more often than not. It’s crazy. You see it every day. I mean, you see them so often that they almost seem routine at this point, in a way, but you’re still, like, in awe of it, especially after the game when you get to see the videos and just things like that. I mean, I’ll be honest with you, there’s times guys come down two-on-one and make a lateral play, and you just have confidence that he’s gonna save it. Sometimes you think they’re almost better off shooting than throwing it [the puck] backdoor. He’s just so good at getting across and making those types of saves. It’s phenomenal to watch.”
Josh Bailey: “I don’t know if I’d have one word. I think he’s a competitor. I think the way he sees the game and his ability to read plays and his quickness, all these things really add up to him being who he is, and he’s a backbone, him and Varlamov, for our team, and he’s been very impressive since day one.”
Zach Parise: “He doesn’t get flustered. I don’t know a word for that. You can pick one. But regardless of the scenario, or situation in the game, he is the same. You know what I mean? Whether he’s made a great save or lets in one that he thinks he should have, he’s the same, and he plays the same, and it’s unreal. I mean, this guy’s unbelievable back there. He’s a lot like Martin Brodeur in the way they work at practice. You can just tell, he’s always trying to get better. And that’s what was crazy to me about Marty, with him, as much as he had accomplished. He’s continually working and, regardless, he did not want to get scored on, you know what I mean? That’s what’s impressive.
And you see that with Sorokin too. You have to bear down. You have to because you know they’re not going to give you any freebies. So you have to hit your spot. You have to really bear down in practice if you want to score. You could easily go the whole practice without scoring…so you have to work at it. And I think that pushes us.”
Ryan Pulock: “Just incredible, really, I mean, it’s just every night. You know, the big save after big save at key moments. You know, he’s always there. So, I think when you get in those big spots, you know, the momentum that it can bring to a team is huge. llya’s been fantastic.”
Mat Barzal: “Great. He takes every shot in practice, it’s just fun. He always likes to do breakaways and stuff, always working on his game. He’s just a really great teammate. I always feel like he’s got a chance.”
The New York Islanders and New York Rangers may be arch-rivals, but they share something a common. Both organizations have elite netminders who will dominate the NHL landscape for a long time.
Since their days in the KHL, Igor Shesterkin and Ilya Sorokin have been compared, and that’s only been magnified since both came over to the NHL.
Last season, Shesterkin took home his first Vezina Trophy as he put together a historical campaign. This season, Ilya Sorokin has been the better netminder early on.
The hosts of the Spittin Chiclet’s podcast, Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonette, had this to say on their latest show:
“Everyone likes telling me how wrong I am about things. Have you seen how good the Islanders are?” Ryan Whitney said. “And by the way, Sorokin might be better than f***** Igor. You watch.”
“Hey, I’ll sign, stamp and deliver that all day long,” Paul Bissonette said.
Rangers fans are so salty and mad at me for having my own opinion. Sorry we don’t see eye to eye guys. I see true greatness from Sorokin. Shesterkin is also a world class talent but when we all look back in 10-15 years it’ll be Ilya>Igor. Print the shirts @MikeGrinnell_ https://t.co/sUafSTWSUm
— Ryan Whitney (@ryanwhitney6) November 8, 2022