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Islanders Goalies: The Battle Between Veterans And Rookies

Evgeni Nabokov (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The 2011-2012 NHL season is right around the corner and it is time for the Islanders to prove themselves.  Goalie issues plagued the team last year, as starter Rick DiPietro was injured.  A total of six goalies filled the spot  before the Islanders were able to get back on track. Veterans and rookies are competing for the spot as the Islanders look to earn another playoff berth.

The Contenders:

  1. Rick DiPietro
  2. Evgeni Nabokov
  3. Al Montoya
  4. Kevin Poulin

Rick DiPietro

Yet to prove himself as a playoff worthy goaltender, Rick DiPietro fought through many injuries last season.  With DiPietro only playing 26 of the 82 games, the Islanders were left with a tough decision. Five more goalies filled the role between the pipes as the veteran was sidelined.

His poor decision-making as well as his health stability can be a key factor in the Islanders decision to play him this year. DiPietro’s lengthy contract, which still has ten years left, is also a key factor in his return.  To buy out DiPietro’s contract would put the team in a financial hole as they are still paying Alexei Yashin, who’s contract was bought out in June 2007.  In his last three seasons with the New York Islanders, DiPietro compiled stats of 11 wins and 22 loses with four overtime loses. With his poor stats and health, there is a good chance he will not start for the team at the beginning of the 2011-2012 season.

Evgeni Nabokov

Claimed off waivers last January by the Islanders, Evgeni Nabokov failed to report to the team from the Detroit Red Wings.  This lead the Islanders to suspend Nabokov from playing the remainder of the 2010-2011 NHL season.  This is routine for a player who does not report to the team that claimed them off waivers.  The Islanders did let Nabokov play for the IIHF World Championship in Russia.

In recent weeks it has been said that Nabokov would be reporting to the Islanders training camp.  He is expected to play for the Islanders during the 2011-12 NHL season and would be a great addition to the team. Nabokov has always been a playoff worthy goalie.  He began his career with the San Jose Sharks in 1999 and took the team to the playoff’s from 1999 until his tenure was finished with the team in 2010.  This could be the goaltender the Islanders have been waiting for.

Al Montoya

He’s a diamond in the rough so to speak. Al Montoya took the role of goalie last season as a back up to Mikko Koskinen after Kevin Poulin was injured in February. Montoya traveled from Bridgeport Connecticut (home of the Islanders AHL affiliate) to Nassau Coliseum to back up Mikko on short notice.  A few games, wins and a whole lot of saves later, Montoya stapled himself as a worthy goalie.

When discussing the goalie matter on the Island, Montoya’s name is over looked compared to DiPietro and Nabokov.  Montoya proved himself with an impressive 9-5-5 record, one shutout and a .921 save percentage, earning him a one-year extension with the club.  This leads us to believe we will be seeing Montoya play a good majority of games this year.  It could be a while before the Islanders give Montoya the starting position, though he would make a great backup to either Nabokov or DiPietro.

Kevin Poulin

During the goalie slum last season, Kevin Poulin and Nathan Lawson stepped in to take the roll as the team’s goalies.  Lawson has since been shipped off to Montreal, leaving Poulin as the lone savior. Poulin went 4-2-1 with the team last year.

Much like DiPietro, Poulin was plagued by injury.  On February 8th, Poulin was injured during warm-ups, which resulted in Mikko Koskinen starting in goal and Al Montoya backing him up. Poulin is now healthy and ready to play for the team if the opportunity arises. Poulin and Montoya will be reporting to training camp and decisions will have to be made in the near future.

2011-2012 Season

The 2011-2012 season is right around the corner and the home opener is October 8th against the Florida Panthers. It will be interesting to see the goalie pairing the team goes with. Every goalie will have to prove that they have what it takes at this years training camp, as well as preseason. This could finally be the year for the Islanders to make the playoffs and hush the critics.

About John Caruso

Die hard Islander, Yankee, Giants, Lakers and Pro Wrestling fan/blogger/writer. Follow me on Twitter @yoneboii

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2 comments for “Islanders Goalies: The Battle Between Veterans And Rookies”

  1. New Post: Islanders Goalies: The Battle Between Veterans And Rookies

    Posted by Sports of New York | August 26, 2011, 6:22 am
  2. RT @TopsyRT: Islanders Goalies: The Battle Between Veterans And Rookies

    Posted by John Caruso | August 26, 2011, 10:04 am

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