Which playoff team has the best goaltending?
You might be surprised by the answer
Islanders’ Goaltending Tandem of Varlamov, Sorokin is the Best in the League
By the Numbers: Sure, a team’s position in the standings is essentially what matters most at this point. And the next thing that matters is who wins the Stanley Cup. But, between these points, you cannot forget: A Hot Goalie Can Single-Handedly Win a Playoff Series.
If you didn’t know already, the New York Islanders have quietly come to lead the NHL in team Save Percentage (SV%), at .925, and Goals Against per Game (GA/G), at 2.23. The remaining top five teams (by SV%) include:
#2: Vegas Golden Knights (.921 SV%, 2.22 GA/G)
#3: Carolina Hurricanes (.920 SV%, 2.39 GA/G) and Nashville Predators (.920 SV%, 2.70 GA/G)
#5: Winnipeg Jets (.915 SV%, 2.78 GA/G) and Florida Panthers (.915 SV%, 2.70 GA/G)
The Hurricanes, Predators, and Panthers may also be surprises, but the Golden Knights and Jets surely are not.
Leading League in Team Goaltending Was in the Cards for the Islanders: After reviewing team rosters during the preseason, I had a feeling that the goalie tandem in NYI had a shot to be the best. First, the team has coaching mastermind Barry Trotz at the helm, who has one Stanley Cup, one conference final, and four second rounds in his past six seasons. Next, you have standout starter Semyon Varlamov, who has a career SV% of .916 and GAA of 2.63, including a .929 SV% and 2.04 GAA this season. But, the wild card this year was backup Ilya Sorokin...
Sorokin | Islanders Instagram
The Quiet Move That Could Be the Difference: Drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft (78th overall), Sorokin spent the past eight seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). There, he won Goaltender of the Year in 2016 and was the playoff MVP in a Gagarin Cup win in 2019. While those awards are impressive enough, what stood out to me was his stats: a regular season record of 134-64-22, with a 1.70 GAA and .930 SV%; and a playoff record of 50-17, with a 1.37 GAA and .940 SV%. With those numbers in that quality of a league, it’s not surprising that he has put up a GAA of 2.17 and a SV% of .918 this season.
Looking forward to this year’s playoffs, don’t be surprised if this tandem helps the New York Islanders win the Stanley Cup.
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A Question for the Peanut Gallery
Who would you want in your net these playoffs: A) The Islanders’ tandem of Varlamov and Sorokin; B) The Golden Knights’ tandem of Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner; C) The Jets’ Connor Hellebuyck; or D) The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy?