The Isles Between The Pipes

The New York Islanders have certainly hit a lull this season, having lost seven of their past nine games and being outscored 10-1 in the past two games. Although the forwards and defense are far from perfect and share the blame with the entire team, the goaltending has certainly been an issue (Photo Credit: spotboslow/Flickr).

Teams typically put themselves in a good position to in when they manage to get over 40 shots on net, or close to it, such as in the 3-2 loss to the Sabres (43 shots) and last night's 3-1 loss to the Senators (38 shots).

But that hasn't exactly been the case for the Isles. Evgeni Nabokov, who has been relatively solid in net, only has a 6-6-1 record, 3.13 GAA and a .894 save percentage. His back-up goaltender, who is here for almost the next decade, posts a 4.09 GAA and a .855 save percentage with an 0-3-0 record.

The underlying issue for these two net-minders is that Nabokov is 37 years old and likely incapable of handling a vast majority of games. His back-up isn't able to pick up the slack either. DiPietro's injury history precedes itself combined with the stockpiled amount of rust he's gained after the limited amount of playing time he has seen over the years.

In fact, Brian Compton of responded to one of my tweets last night to indicate how poor DP has played over the past year and a half.

@BComptonNHL 11/3/11 RT @IslesRM I can't remember the last game that DP has played where he has let up less than 3 goals. #Isles

The numbers for both goaltenders don't lie. If the coaching staff wanted to look into the prospect pool, Kevin Poulin or Anders Nilsson are both waiting for their opportunity. However neither of their numbers are exactly jaw dropping. Poulin has a 15-13-3 record with a 3.16 GAA and a .906 save percentage and Nilsson is 7-10-0 with a 3.14 GAA and .896 save percentage.

Of the four goalies, Poulin's save percentage makes him the best playing keeper of the bunch and possibly worth an extended look at some point during the year.

But neither Poulin nor Nilsson exactly look ready to take over Nabokov's job next year, as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. DiPietro is nowhere near close to being considered to retake the number one spot as well.

So what will the Islanders do? Can the organization afford to put Poulin or Nilsson as the number one goalie next year when the team continues to claim that they are going to compete for a playoff spot each off-season?

That's a question that will certainly have to be answered before the 2013-2014 season. But for right now, the Islanders goalies aren't stealing enough hockey games to keep their club competitive.

-Rob McGowan


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