How many goaltenders will we see in an Isles uniform by the end of the season? That was a question that a few of my readers asked me before the start of the year. Last year the Islanders featured Dwayne Roloson, Rick DiPietro, Kevin Poulin, Mikko Koskinen, Al Montoya and Nathan Lawson. And oh yeah, they also tried to claim Evgeni Nabokov off waivers to only say, "No thanks" before joining the roster this year.
That's a total of six goalies (with a 7th one that rang off the post) that dressed for the New York Islanders in 2011. The count now is at five for this year between DiPietro, Montoya, Nabokov, Poulin and Anders Nilsson, who earned his first NHL start against the Pittsburgh Penguins the day that Sidney Crosby returned to action.
Koskinen has been playing for KalPa in the Finnish Elite League as John Link explains to us in his latest prospect report since there has been a crowd in the crease for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Both Poulin and Nilsson had been playing so well that there was simply not enough room for Koskinen, choosing him to opt for overseas play.
The New York Islanders have 34 games remaining on the season, having surpassed the mid-point of the season a few games ago. They currently sit 13th in the Eastern Conference and ten points out of the last and final playoff spot, trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs and New Jersey Devils.
With the second half of the year already seven games in, the Isles find themselves in a tight spot. There is still hope that they can compete for a late season rush, hoping to charge their way into the playoffs. However, losing both games to the Leafs this week, only earning one out of possible four points, has hurt their chances drastically. But if the Islanders commit to another second half-season in which they suddenly play their best hockey in the final stages of the year, they might just meet my prediction of falling just short of the post-season between the 9th and 11th spots.
Earlier this week I took a look at the team's forwards and how they have produced so far while considering where they might fit in the team's future.
On this edition of the prospect report, I will look at two lesser known Islanders defensive prospects drafted in the 2011 entry draft. American Robbie Russo and Canadian Brenden Kichton are both still fairly young and undeveloped prospects that under the right instruction could turn into regular NHL players.
Brenden Kichton was drafted in 5th round (127th overall) in 2011 and is currently playing in the WHL for the Spokane Chiefs. The 6’-0” defenseman is mostly known for his offensive abilities rather than his in zone abilities. So far this season he is putting up impressive numbers with 9 goals and 39 assists in 45 games. This is nothing new for Kichton who had a similar season last year where he scored 81 points (23 goals and 58 assist) in 64 games. His play in his own zone isn’t a downfall as he is considered solid; he doesn’t have imposing size but is still reliable in his own end.
In a 1992 article for The New Yorker, the gifted writer Alec Wilkenson quoted an unnamed goaltender as saying “What other job do you now of where, when you make a mistake, a red light goes on behind you and fifteen thousand people call you a jerk?” Bridgeport Sound Tiger goalie Kevin Poulin is suffering from a rare disorder, an inordinate fear and hatred of red lights.
Poulin has now posted 3 consecutive shutouts, each a 4-0 win for Bridgeport. He has not given up a goal in calendar year 2012, approaching 200 minutes without seeing that hated red light. His first shutout in this impressive streak came on January 2nd, a matinee game at the Webster Bank Arena attended by Garth Show and Charles Wang.
When you think of the New York Islanders and associate the word "injury" to their name, you automatically think of all the man-games lost by this team over the past few years and immediately think of the infamous Rick DiPietro. But right now, the injury bug is starting to bite in places other than the 15-year man's knees.
Brian Rolston was placed on the Injured Reserve retroactive to Dec 15th due to a concussion he sustained during the team's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars this passed Thursday. He left the game and did not return and has not played since.This has allowed Nino Niederreiter to return to the line-up without their having to be any major changes to the roster.
Other players, like Tim Wallace, have been getting extra playing time as well. Although Wallace has previous NHL experience with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he really hasn't been all that impressive.
One of the endearing qualities of most Islanders fans I meet is their ability to always look favorably toward the future. Say what you will about the last two decades regarding their favorite franchise, Islanders fans always seem to have an optimistic view of what lies ahead. Whether it’s remaining hopeful that plans for a new arena will somehow develop, or a confidence that the team will someday be champions again, hope never dies on Long Island.
Sure, some of it may lie in the fact that they’ve seen and been through the worst and survived, but mostly it’s a strong loyalty to a team that hasn’t rewarded them nearly as much as they’ve invested, both financially and emotionally.
Twitter is a friendly application that many people use all over the world, whether it be for media purposes, to keep tabs on your favorite celebrities and athletes, to keep in touch with friends, or simply to say every little thing that shoots across your mind and at any point of the day.
Yesterday it was used by top Islanders prospect, Nino Niederreiter to answer a question that has been on the minds of almost every fan for the past three games. Although the tweet is no longer available as it has since been deleted, Niederreiter stated something along the lines of "I don't know" in regards to everyone's question: why has Nino Niederreiter been a healthy scratch?
"We saw it last year, I saw it. I saw the energy and the desperation in our game last year. The second half, we had the best record in the National Hockey League after the All-Star break. We were physical. We were tough to play against."
-Islanders head coach Jack Capuano after the New York Islanders 6-0 loss Saturday night to the Boston Bruins.
Ask the Boston Bruins and Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Pittsburgh...