The New York Islanders are relying on veteran netminder Semyon Varlamov to help keep the winning ways going Saturday night as they host his former team, the Washington Capitals.
Varlamov hasn’t played often lately, as this will be his third start in 10 games.
His counterpart, Ilya Sorokin, has carried most of the workload for the New York Islanders this season, especially late, starting eight of the last 10 games.
On Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was clear that Sorokin could use a break, despite still playing strong.
With the Islanders deciding to keep Varlamov through the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline, they have him at their disposal.
And the trust in the veteran backstop allows his team to focus on their jobs.
“Well, we’ve talked all year long about having two good goalies. It’s very difficult for one goalie to play too many games. They are out there for the full 60 minutes. There’s a fatigue level that comes in, and it just depends on how the game goes,” Islanders head coach Lane Lambert said. “So we’re pretty happy to have the two goalies that we have and again, you know, the way they feed off each other and support each other.”
Varlamov’s last start came back on Feb. 26, when he stopped all 23 shots for a 4-0 shutout win over the Winnipeg Jets. He’s 11-7-2 this season, with a 2.68 GAA and a .914 SV%.
“Between him and Ilya (Sorokin), we got a really good luxury,” Noah Dobson told NYI Hockey Now. Two tremendous goaltenders and tremendous people as well.
“Varlamov is such a great guy off the ice as well. It doesn’t matter if he plays the best game of his career or the worst game of his career. He’s always the same. He brings that great attitude every day to the rink, and he’s a big part of our team.”
The New York Islanders will also be getting some injury relief Saturday night as they welcome Cal Clutterbuck back. The 35-year-old veteran missed 21 straight games with an upper-body injury, missing 33 games due to various injuries.
His teammates are ecstatic to have him back in the room and on the ice.
READ MORE: Islanders on Having Clutterbuck Around: ‘Keeps You Relaxed In The Room’
“Cal’s obviously had a tough stretch over the last few years, but he keeps chipping away and climbing his way back. Obviously, he’s still passionate and wants to be out there,” usual linemate Matt Martin said. “He’s going to be key if we want to get to where we want to go.”
Jean-Gabriel Pageau will not return Saturday night, despite three skates with the team, but head coach Lane Lambert shared that he’s really close.
No. 44 is expected to travel to California, and one would expect him to be available for game action at some point during their three-game road trip.
“Everyone’s so excited to be getting guys like Clutterbuck back. And Pageau as well, hopefully soon,” Martin said. “Obviously, key pieces of our team that we need.
“Everyone’s done a good job of filling that void. Our centers and guys throughout the lineup are playing in different situations, but they’ll give us a boost, having those guys back and doing what they do best.”
There is no update on Mathew Barzal, who will miss his ninth game Saturday with a lower-body injury. He is still week-to-week.
Although not officially stated, it appears that Oliver Wahlstrom, who has been out since Dec. 27 with a lower-body injury, will miss the rest of the season.