Semyon Varlamov is the only player on the Islanders’ roster to have experience playing for Patrick Roy.
Suffice it to say, he is happy with the team’s choice of a new head coach.
“I’m not gonna lie, I had goose bumps,” Varlamov said Tuesday before the Isles lost 3-2 to the Golden Knights in Roy’s second game behind the bench. “It’s great that he joined our team. He’s a great leader. He’s gonna bring a lot of emotions. And I think that’s what we need right now. He can bring a lot of passion about hockey.”
Varlamov’s best individual season came in his first year under Roy, when he finished second to Tuukka Rask for the 2013-14 Vezina Trophy, putting up a .927 save percentage.
After Varlamov was activated from injured reserve on Monday, having him back in the fold will be crucial for the Islanders, who have leaned heavily on Ilya Sorokin over the last month.
Varlamov will return to the net on Wednesday against the Canadiens.
“Between you and I, he should have won the Vezina that year [in 2014],” Roy said.
“I was very happy to win coach of the year, but honestly, the player who made the difference that year from the team that was second-to-last in the NHL to finish first in its division was because the goaltender was so good. We could count on him night after night after night.”
Varlamov said it is too early for him to get a sense of how Roy has changed since the last time the two of them worked together.
But the respect he has for the Hall of Fame netminder is nothing short of massive.
“We all knew Patrick Roy since we were kids back home,” Varlamov said. “[The] most popular teams were Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche. I remember those playoff games back in the late-90s and early 2000s, Detroit and Colorado going against each other. Patrick played unbelievable during those years, he won the Cup with Colorado twice. So of course he was an idol for a lot of young goalies.”
Mike Reilly was back in the lineup Tuesday, with Samuel Bolduc coming out.
Roy said the plan is for Bolduc to come back in against the Canadiens.
“We just don’t want Mike to sit out too long,” Roy said. “[Bolduc] played a very good game [Sunday]. Doug [Houda’s] very happy with his progression, he’s young. We’re just gonna rotate at some point.”
Pierre Engvall was a full-contact participant in morning skate on Tuesday, with Roy continuing to call him day-to-day with an upper-body injury, but said he is progressing well.
Brock Nelson’s second period goal was his 500th career point.
Roy did not have an update on Bo Horvat after he took a puck to the mouth during the final minute of the loss.