Islanders coach Barry Trotz has elected to ride goaltender Semyon Varlamov recently despite alternating between his two netminders for a majority of the season.
However, Trotz soon might switch back to his previous strategy.
With Sunday’s 4-1 win over the Sharks, Varlamov has now started five consecutive games. He’s also gotten the start in six of the past seven, but has made seven-straight appearances between the pipes.
Varlamov turned aside 29 of the 30 shots San Jose threw his way to improve to 19-12-4 on the season.
“I think he’s handled [this stretch] very well,” Trotz said Sunday. “One thing that Varly does is he’s a tremendous worker. He works at his craft day in and day out. Off the ice, on the ice. He’s handled the workload quite well.”
The other Islanders goaltender, Thomas Greiss, was pulled midway through the second period Feb. 13 against the Predators, the start of the Islanders’ four-game road trip out West, after allowing three goals on eight shots. Varlamov stepped in and allowed another two as the Islanders were run out of Nashville 5-0.
Since then, Varlamov has stopped 148 of the 156 shots he’s faced over the past five games (.949 save percentage). The Islanders, however, have gone 2-3 over that span.
When asked about sticking with Varlamov for the past few games Friday night after a 4-1 rout of the Red Wings, Trotz pointed to the fact that the team hasn’t had a lot of practice time recently and it has been difficult to keep both goalies warm.
Considering Greiss’ struggles at the beginning of the trip, Trotz was seemingly more inclined to go with Varlamov. But with the Rangers coming to the Coliseum on Tuesday, a big test in St. Louis on Thursday, as well as a Saturday matinee against the Bruins, Trotz said he’ll likely go back to an alternating schedule.
“We’re going to need both,” he said. “Next month is packed in.”
Varlamov has started 35 games this season while Greiss has been the starter for 26. Varlamov has posted a .918 save percentage so far this season, while Greiss (16-8-2) is right behind with a .916 save percentage.
Derick Brassard, who took a puck to the face in the first period of the 3-1 loss in Colorado, participated in morning skate but did not dress for the second straight game.
Trotz classified Brassard as “day-to-day” prior to facing the Red Wings, which kicked off a three-game homestand. Brassard skated with extra protective gear on his helmet during morning skate.
With Sunday’s win, Barry Trotz moved into third place on the Islanders’ all-time wins list for head coaches in franchise history.