Is Kevin Poulin The Answer?
The Islanders were once again dealt a body blow last night, as Evegeni Nabokov injured his groin early in the 5-4 shootout victory over the Red Wings. With the groin injury seeming to sideline the veteran goaltender for the upwards of 4 weeks, the torch will be officially passed to 23 year old Kevin Poulin. Poulin has been steady so far this season but he has never had the pressure of being the #1 in the NHL.
The practice of bringing players up and placing them in unfamiliar roles is just status quo for this Islanders team as they have had the likes of Matt Donovan, Brock Nelson, Thomas Hickey, and Aaron Ness all propel to play a big part of the Isles season so far.
Poulin was a 5th round pick of the Islanders in the 2008 NHL Draft and first cracked the NHL lineup in 2011 thanks to a Rick DiPietro injury. He has been a decent goalie in the back up role in the NHL, but was never a true top goalie in the AHL in parts of three season with the Sound Tigers.(flickr/CassieMadonia)
The Islanders have been decimated by injuries all season but they must continue the next up attitude and continue to play meaningful hockey and not let the season slip away at this early juncture. Poulin will be a huge factor either way whether his team will thrive or fall.
The Montreal native will take over the reigns of a poor defensive team that hasn't seemed to kill a penalty in over a month. If the old notion that your goalie is your number one penalty killer than this just another challenge for Poulin to take head on.
Garth has made it known that he wants to stay in the organization when it comes to the goalie position and this was supposed to be the year that Poulin was going to be polished into a starter. Unfortunately, the process has been sped up a bit. If Poulin does not step up to the challenge the way the front office and coaching staff need him to, then their hands will be tied and they will be forced to make a move outside of the team.
The Islanders have called up the other young goalie from Bridgeport to back up Poulin, in Anders Nilsson, but he is clearly not ready to be a main stay with the big club after struggling mightily so far this season in the AHL.
The next four plus weeks will be the biggest in the young career of Kevin Poulin and he can take this team by storm with a couple of big games this week. Playing Toronto, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh all of the road in the coming week Poulin must take the bull by its horns and show this team and its fans that he is the right choice for the job, or he might not be employed for too long.