Alexander Romanov was laughing as he came over to Ilya Sorokin’s locker on Friday.
The two Russians are near each other in the Islanders’ dressing room and spent time together during the summer, so it’s no surprise that Romanov — whose English is further along than Sorokin’s — stepped up to translate a question. Did Sorokin surprise himself at all with how well he played last season?
Sorokin thanked Romanov. He turned his attention to the question.
“We didn’t have playoffs, so it doesn’t matter if your team doesn’t make the playoffs,” Sorokin told The Post. “So I just think of team results. My statistics, it’s second.”
For one to happen, though, the other may have to. The comparison to the Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin, Sorokin’s close friend and countryman, is obvious but apt.
This year, Sorokin will look to follow Shesterkin in leading his team on a postseason run.
Make no mistake, a season comparable to one of Shesterkin’s is indeed the ceiling for Sorokin, who finished 2021-22 second in the league in save percentage to his intrastate rival. And if the Islanders are going to establish themselves as contenders for the Stanley Cup, such a season from their netminder might be the way it happens.
“[The Rangers] had a team that was kind of finding their way,” Kyle Palmieri said. “And they had confidence in their goalie. We had confidence in our goalie — I haven’t been here that long but this group has had confidence in their goalie from a long time ago. That’s always something, you go out there and you know they’re gonna give you a chance to win the game.”
Palmieri doesn’t remember playing against Sorokin while he was with the Devils, but he does remember coming to practice against him early on after being traded.
“The first practice you have, you’re looking at some net,” Palmieri said, “and all of a sudden, it’s not there anymore.”
Sorokin and Shesterkin spent some time together after the season. But Sorokin didn’t ask him about the playoffs. Asked about trying to make a run at the Vezina Trophy this season, Sorokin flatly responded: “I don’t think about this.”
His focus is only the team. But this team will be depending on him.
Semyon Varlamov missed practice Friday for personal reasons, but will be back on Saturday, per coach Lane Lambert.
Otto Koivula, Isaiah George and Collin Adams all missed practice for the second straight day with undisclosed injuries.