Can Semyon Varlamov return to prime kind with the New York Islanders?

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We speak to one of the vital legendary goalie coaches of all-time about his former pupil and what bought Varlamov heading in the right direction. With nice construction in entrance of him in New York, the netminder nonetheless wants one factor to make him excel once more.Semyon Varlamov|Jonathan Kozub/NHLI by way of Getty ImagesWhen the New York Islanders let breakout star goalie Robin Lehner stroll by way of free company this summer season, eyebrows had been raised. In spite of everything, the large Swede had labored via huge adversity to place in the very best season of his profession whereas serving to the Islanders to a stunning second-place end within the Metropolitan Division and a first-round sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Now, to be honest, fellow stopper Thomas Greiss had performed simply as properly for the Isles final 12 months and he was returning for 2019-20, however New York additionally went out and grabbed former Colorado starter Semyon Varlamov to fill the crease.
Varlamov turned expendable in Colorado because of the ascent of Philipp Grubauer, nevertheless it wasn’t that way back that Varlamov was on the prime of his recreation. Again in 2013-14, he was runner-up in Vezina Trophy voting to Boston’s Tuukka Rask, as Varlamov helped the Avs to a surprising first-place end within the Central Division below coach Patrick Roy.
Having a Corridor of Fame goalie as your bench boss could be a bonus for a netminder, however Varlamov additionally had one of the vital well-known goalie coaches of all-time on the Avs throughout that pivotal time in his profession. Just lately, I spoke with Francois Allaire and his time in Colorado with Varlamov was one of many subjects.
“Varlamov was a superb goalie however he had a pair issues along with his consistency,” Allaire mentioned. “We used his athleticism, however put in a construction so he wouldn’t be such a streaky man.”
Taking the guess-work out of saves was key. If Varlamov knew what to do, he wouldn’t be looking for the proper transfer for a scenario as a result of he would already be ready.
“On-ice, off-ice, within the video room, it was about having the identical motion time and again,” Allaire mentioned. “If one scenario got here up three or 4 occasions in a recreation, we needed him to react to it the identical approach every time. Varly had an excellent season that 12 months and he didn’t have any accidents, which slowed him down later.”
Ah sure, the accidents. The massive X-factor that has dogged him in latest seasons. Throughout that 2013-14 marketing campaign with the Avs, Varlamov made 63 appearances in web, however attributable to quite a lot of illnesses, he hasn’t hit that mark since. Final season, he solely missed a few video games attributable to a lower-body damage, however earlier than that he handled a knee damage, a strained groin, hip surgical procedure and extra groin points.
All these maladies took chunks out of his seasons and it was all the time troublesome to gauge whether or not Varlamov’s recreation was falling off, or if he was simply all the time preventing via one thing bodily.
To this point this season, it seems like ‘Varly’ is again. His 2.42 goals-against common is the very best he’s had since that 2013-14 marketing campaign, whereas the .921 save share ranks among the many finest in his NHL profession. The Islanders are as soon as once more among the finest defensive groups within the league and Greiss is holding up his finish of the crease work, too.
When it comes to goalie coaches, Varlamov continues to be lucky although Allaire retired a number of years in the past: the Islanders make use of netminding guru Mitch Korn as their director of goaltending, whereas Piero Greco is the official goalie coach. Final 12 months after I interviewed Lehner in regards to the studying atmosphere on Lengthy Island, he was fast to make it possible for Greco bought credit score for his work and never simply the better-known Korn.
So the desk is about for Varlamov. Now, he simply has to remain constant – and maybe most significantly, keep wholesome.
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Tags: ny islanders, colorado avalanche, nhlConnect: In regards to the AuthorRyan KennedyRyan Kennedy is the affiliate senior author and draft/prospect knowledgeable at The Hockey Information. He has been with the publication since 2005 and in that span, Don Cherry, Lil Jon and The Rock have all referred to as his home. He lives in Toronto along with his spouse and youngsters the place he listens to loud music and collects NCAA pennants.

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