Tough Decisions-Easy Choices
Of the many perks offered to season ticket holders, my favorite is the end-of-season, Port Jeff Ferry cruise with the players. It also seems to be an event equally enjoyed by the players as well, and what’s not to enjoy? Free food and drink provided by the Sound Tigers organization and their sponsors and 3 hours of relaxed mingling of players and fans, priceless. This years’ cruise took place Monday evening and was once again a huge success. I was fortunate to spend a good bit of time talking to goalie Anders Nilsson, still on the mend from an ankle injury he sustained in the March 18 game against the Worcester Sharks.(Nilsson/Photo Pope Steve XXVLII)
When I asked how his ankle was doing he assured me that it was feeling good and he couldn’t wait to get back in the net. I asked him what he was working on while getting back in shape? He said he was “working on all the little things” that ‘Sudsy’, (Islanders goaltending consultant, Sudarshan Maharaj) had asked him to concentrate on. I mentioned that it seemed when either he or Kevin Poulin returned from an assignment with the Isles that their game improved. He agreed and again credited the coaching staff for their work.
It was not an interview, just a conversation over a couple of beers and talk drifted to other more important issues. “When are you going to join Twitter?” I asked him and with a laugh he said, “Probably soon, David (Ullstrom) has been trying to talk me into it.”
I told him how I thought the nickname ‘Thor45’ that Kyle Okposo had given him would be a perfect twitter handle. He corrected me saying, “It was Ricky (Rick DiPietro) who gave me that name over the summer. My hair was longer then, and the movie had come out, so it was Thor.” We chatted for a few more minutes before I wished him well in the playoffs and he left to mingle with others. I was at that March game in Worcester when he injured his ankle. Seated two rows behind the net, I never saw what caused the injury and found out on the following Monday that it was a 'strain'.
Nearly a month had passed and he still had not started a game. I began to wonder how bad could the injury be, when it occurred to me that the player on the team that does the least skating punishes his legs more than anyone on the ice. Here is a little test for you.
Pick a drizzly boring Sunday during the summer and go to your local rink. For twenty minutes put yourself in front of the net. Alternate between standing, squatting (like Kevin Poulin below) standing again, dropping to the ice in an attempt at 'the butterfly', scramble to your feet and repeat the process. After you have repeated this little sequence do it again. Do it thirty times in twenty minutes and take a rest, the first period has ended.
One point away from the teams’ first division championship in ten years with three games remaining, I don’t envy coach Brent Thompson. The team now has (at least) 20 forwards and 9 defensemen. He will be forced to make a lot of difficult decisions as the team moves forward.
Choosing which goalie to start will probably prove the easiest of his decisions, as both Anders Nilsson and Kevin Poulin are solid in the net. Poulin has been carrying the load lately and will continue to do so until Nilsson is 100%. There are a couple of things you can be certain of. Nilsson (or any player for that matter) will not start unless he is 100%. Which ever goalie gets the call is capable of shutting out any team in the AHL or the NHL. Go Tigers!!
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