Kevin Poulin is a 23-year old goaltender with talent, courage, and a desire to prove his worth. But he’s also inexperienced. Last night’s defeat helped tip the scales in his favor, nevertheless, even if some of his errors revealed an unhoned skill-set in desperate need of ice time.
Statistical analysis notwithstanding, Kevin Poulin showed his battle level where it matters most to those who watch the game closely: his willfulness to aggrandize his game as the pressure surmounts and defeat almost eminent.
The one characteristic that should inspire some semblance of relief and commotion within both the Islander organization and among its fan-base is Poulin’s ability to come out of his crease to challenge shots.
On several occasions that deliberateness stifled Blackhawk scoring chances within high-percentage shooting areas, one particular save against Marian Hossa (1:16, 3rd period) as the prime example of what this young man can do in high-stress situations.
Poulin saw 31 SOG last night. Nothing out of the ordinary for an NHL netminder. But look again. Dissect the team–specficially, the defense–that presented itself in front of Kevin Poulin. How would you characterize it? Erratic? Flat? Apprehensive? Disorganized?
Ask yourself another question: Who took those 31 SOG last night? Florida? Phoenix? Winnipeg? Carolina? None other than the Stanley Cup champions Chicago Blackhawks.
Poulin ends the night with .893% and a loss, but should hang his hat on this defeat as he would any victory. If the team and its fans are truly honest, the game was lost because only a portion of the club showed up to play.
Kevin Poulin and the Islanders have fans believing that anything is possible as long as there’s a willingness to believe. Poulin, Michael Grabner, Josh Bailey, Frans Nielsen, John Tavares, and Matt Moulson sustained that philosophy throughout. Now it’s time for the entire team to awaken to their own mediocrity and rise above it.
Kevin Poulin wasn’t mediocre last night. His defense was. His offense was. His squad was. Kevin Poulin can play hockey, and is the type of goalie the Islanders need right now, one who leads by example, who takes the risk so that chances are afforded his teammates.
No more excuses. The Islander goalies are good enough. Time for this team to believe they can beat anyone on any given day. Because, quite frankly, they can.