Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Ask any Islanders fan who impressed them the most in Saturday night’s 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins, and the answer you’ll probably get is Kevin Poulin. He was sharp and alert, making good saves and smart moves throughout the game. He took a fatigued Islanders (although the Islanders did not play as such) team who played the night before in Ottawa and made them better.
There were a lot of positives to take from the teams play, especially from Poulin. He really hadn’t instilled any confidence after two starts against Chicago and Philadelphia (not to say he played poorly), but Poulin looked strong last night. He often relies on his athleticism too much, diving across the crease in desperation, and we didn’t see much of that last night. He looked sharp and alert, giving up one goal on 27 starts.
This game was in a sense a must win for the young goaltenders sake. The Islanders organization needs to have confidence in him going forward, and after a strong game against the Stanley Cup Finalists, there’s reason to believe for fans and management alike.
Now, with that said, after what we’ve seen, there should be enough confidence to let Kevin Poulin start Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals over starting goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Now, I’m sure some of you readers are thinking that one game isn’t enough to go on, but in reality, Poulin really hasn’t played terribly in any of the games he’s played in.
The score doesn’t show it, but Poulin looked very sharp in Chicago. After a shaky first twenty minutes of play he bailed the Islanders out multiple times in a third period in which the Islanders were out-played. What ultimately overshadowed Poulin’s performance in that game was an expectation formed by Islanders fans following a 6-1 clobbering of the Phoenix Coyotes. Many fans, particularly the fans on social media got the idea that the Islanders were going to go into Chicago and beat the defending champions following a strong performance on home ice. Obviously it was a long shot given Chicago’s talent, and the Islanders lost by a score of 3-2 after coming close to tying the game in the final 10 seconds with their net empty. Poulin wasn’t subject to praise by fans because of the fact that the Islanders lost a game in which fans thought they could’ve won.
Now, the game against Philadelphia was just a rough game. Obviously Poulin wasn’t on his game, but he was provided no help in front of him during what is undoubtedly the most disappointing effort the Islanders have put forth so far this season. The Islanders were flat and seemingly lacked motivation to perform, and Poulin ended up bearing a large load of the loss because of the poor effort.
Given the fact that he has looked good in 2 games and great in last night’s game and watching Evgeni Nabokov struggling mightily during Friday’s 5-4 shootout win vs Ottawa, it would make sense to start Poulin. Nabokov is getting old, and rest won’t come much mid-to-late season, so it’s important to have him fresh when he’s needed. Poulin’s confidence is also soaring right now. He wants to prove himself capable of being reliable, and after a great performance against Boston, the confidence will be in full force should he be selected to start on Tuesday.
Goaltending was said to be an issue, but if Poulin gets his game going,watch out.