It's Still Too Soon To Count Out Poulin

Kevin Poulin has been under the Islanders' microscope for quite some time. The organization has put a lot of faith in him, expecting him to eventually take over the starting position from veteran net-minder Evgeni Nabokov, perhaps as early as next season (Photo credit: 560XLS/Flickr).

Early on, fans were probably starting to lower their expectations for Poulin, only winning one of his first five starts and then dropping six in a row between November 19th and December 7th.

However, a recent surge by the Islanders, which can be very much attributed to the performance of Poulin, may help turn a few heads and increase the confidence of the 23-year old keeper.

Poulin has won his last four starts, three of them coming in a row over the past week against Dallas, Toronto and Colorado.

Last night was probably Poulin's best performance of the season, stopping 31 of 32 shots from the Avalanche, who are now 27-12-5 on the year and third in the Western Conference. An overtime win on the road against a team that has been much more successful this year is a great accomplishment for a team that struggled so terribly early on.

But his overall stats are still less than impressive, as he is 8-12-0 with a dismal .895 save percentage and a 3.12 GAA.

It can be argued that a goaltender's Goals Against Average is more of a team stat that is affected by defensive play and the ability to keep the puck out of your own zone as a team. But a goaltender's save percentage falls entirely on him and is one area that Poulin still needs to work on.

Despite the four wins in a row, Poulin stopped less than 90% of the shots he faced in the first three games. He did, however, have a decisive .968 save percentage last night against the Avs.

Performances like that will likely let the coaching staff be more at ease with letting him start games on a more frequent basis in order to give Nabokov some time off, as it appears clear that his body is not capable of playing an abundance of games in a row.

It might be too soon to call Poulin a solidified NHL goaltender, but it is also too soon to count him out as well.

-Rob McGowan

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