Poll: Weekend Goaltending Situation for the New York Islanders

By James McDermott

The New York Islanders are presented with a home and home series against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins which will provide Jack Capuano with options between the pipes.

The Isles will travel to Pittsburgh to face the Pens on Friday night, and then return to the Nassau Vetrerans Memorial Coliseum on Saturday to complete the series.

Last weekend, in a similar situation, Capuano chose to start number one goaltender Jaroslav Halak against the Florida Panthers on Friday night, then switch to backup Chad Johnson to face the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Halak was tapped to face the weaker opponent in the front end of the back to back games last week because he was in sensational form entering that game, posting two consecutive shutouts. Halak did earn a victory last night, but he is not nearly in that kind of groove right now.

Johnson has not played since the Tampa defeat last weekend. This has become Jaro’s team unquestionably at this point, but Johnson is a viable backup who can do the job when Halak needs a break. Starting Johnson on Friday in Pittsburgh would assure Halak the start on Saturday at home, which would allow the home fans (AKA the paying customers) to enjoy the Isles strongest lineup.

So how will Capuano deal with the back-to back games this week?

I would assume that he would start Halak on Friday night and plan to play Johnson on home ice for Saturday night’s tilt. There is always a chance that with a strong performance on Friday, Halak could get both starts, but with a week full of important divisional games upcoming, it may not be wise to stretch the team’s number one too thin.

Against a team like the Penguins it will take more than a goaltender to get the Islanders results. The Pens are the NHL’s hottest team right now, winning 9 out of 10, and boast a staggering +29 goal differential on the season. All of the Islanders will have to be on top of their game this weekend.

As much as it may be a detriment to the team long term, if the Isles get a point out of the Friday night game, I would be very tempted to turn to Halak on Saturday, points against the Penguins are unicorn rare right now and Halak is your best bet to secure them.