photo credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
The Islanders and Rangers played a game of role reversal on Saturday night. After dropping their season opener to the Islanders 4-0, the Blueshirts returned the favor defeating the Islanders 5-0. It was an interesting night for both teams. For the Rangers, their star forward Artemi Panarin hit the score sheet with two goals in roughly 22 minutes of ice time, as well as Pavel Buchnevich having himself a three-point affair with a +2 rating. Alexandar Georgiev would also record 23 saves en route to his fifth career shutout, and second against the blue and orange.
Many, many things went wrong for the Islanders in this contest. The first, and most obvious, was the long-awaited, yet unexpected debut of Ilya Sorokin between the pipes. The expected starter, Semyon Varlamov, was struck up around his neck/jaw area during warmups by a high shot from Cal Clutterbuck and went down almost immediately. A few short moments later, Varlamov was scratched, and the White Whale was about to officially arrive on Long Island. This did not go as planned. To make a long story short, Sorokin would allow 5 goals on 32 shots, finishing with a .844 save percentage.
I was very upset with the performance of Sorokin at first. As the game progressed though, it became evident and obvious that the defense was doing little to no help to provide any form of help for the rookie netminder. When you take that, on top of the emergency at hand, finding out you were starting 15 minutes before puck drop, Sorokin was literally thrown to the wolves. To be overly critical would just be unfair. Although people should cut him some slack for the situation at hand, if Varly does end up being out for an extended period of time, Sorokin will have to adapt and get comfortable quickly if the Islanders are to make a deep playoff run, if any playoff run at all. This is not to say that the Isles are doomed if they have to rely on the duo (trio) of Sorokin, Schneider, and taxi squad goalie Jakub Skarek, but it will make the road to the Stanley Cup Playoffs much more difficult for the franchise.
The Islanders will host the Boston Bruins (1-0-1) Monday afternoon to open the season at the Nassau Coliseum.