Tomorrows bring no guarantees for goalies.
For instance, there’s no telling whether Ilya Sorokin will get the start on Friday night against the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena even as he comes off a career-high 49 saves in Wednesday night’s 3-0 win over the Oilers at UBS Arena.
The Islanders also will host the Flyers on Saturday night, and it’s almost a given that Sorokin and Semyon Varlamov will split the back-to-back games.
“I don’t think too much,” Sorokin said after Wednesday’s victory. “It’s just today. Tomorrow’s a new day and you never know how you’ll compete in the next game.”
Both Sorokin and the Islanders (13-8-0) enjoyed their Thanksgiving day off — albeit with a late-afternoon flight to Columbus, Ohio — on a roll. The Islanders have won two straight and 11 of 15 as they sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Sorokin has been masterful in consecutive games, including 30 saves in Monday night’s 3-2 comeback win in overtime in Toronto. He has a 9-5-0 record in his third NHL season, is third in the league with a 2.20 goals-against average and is second with a .934 save percentage.
Sorokin finished sixth in the Vezina Trophy voting last season with one first-place vote. He figures to finish higher in the balloting this season, providing he continues to play like this.
But Sorokin could not say if this is the most comfortable he’s felt since coming over from Russia.
“I don’t think about this,” he said. “Tomorrow I can feel [terrible].”
Every goalie is prone to a bad game, but Sorokin’s athleticism complements the way he sees the ice, leaving those clunkers few and far between.
“What I see is his ability to read the game,” coach Lane Lambert said. “And then his quickness. So you combine those two things and he’s a little bit ahead of the game itself. He’s able to get to certain areas that maybe others don’t.”
Lambert then was asked if Sorokin’s 49-save gem against the Oilers was his best game.
“He played well,” Lambert said. “Is it his best game? I don’t know. But it was a tremendous game from him. He’s just focused. He’s dialed in and he’s quick and he made some huge saves for us.”
But high shot totals are not something his teammates want Sorokin to constantly face.
Specifically, the Islanders will be looking to limit their penalties against the Blue Jackets after having to go 5-for-5 on the penalty kill against the Oilers, who took 15 shots on the man advantage.
“He’s a pretty special player,” Cal Clutterbuck said. “He’s showing it night in and night out. It just makes you want to go out there and make him face as little as possible.”
Not that Sorokin seemed to mind.
“When you play, you don’t think about how many shots,” he said. “After the game, maybe it’s too many shots. It’s good for a goalie. You feel like you’re in good condition and the defensemen help you.”