For the New York Islanders fans reading this, there is truth to be told. Nobody would have ever thought that a third of the way into this NHL season, the Islanders, the team that has had very little success over recent years, would be leading the entire league in wins. Never.
So, with the team firmly in playoff contention, despite much of the season still to come, there is something that will be of the utmost importance if the team not only wants to secure a postseason berth, but a strong shot at succeeding once they get there. That “something” is Chad Johnson.
As expected, starter Jarolsav Halak has been on the ice far more than his backup, Johnson. In fact, he has spent more than double the amount of time on the ice. No Islanders fan will complain about that, with his recent hot play propelling Long Island’s team up in the standings. But, as the games get longer, legs get tired, and playoffs will loom on the horizon. Will head coach Jack Capuano want to use up all of Halak’s energy just to secure a successful regular season, or save him for when the games matter most?
“Will head coach Jack Capuano want to use up all of Halak’s energy just to secure a successful regular season, or save him for when the games matter most?”
Remember Islanders fans: it has been a while since the team has had as much success as it is having now, but being the best throughout the games that do not actually mean anything besides securing a berth in the end-of-year tournament means absolutely nothing. In recent years, most teams who have settled in near the top of the standings have not fared as well come postseason play.
Enter Chad Johnson. The man who came to the island from Boston has not been quite as good as many have expected, despite not playing much as of yet. Saving 87.3 percent of shots that he has faced over the course of his playing time this season is good and all, but it is not solid enough for a top of the line hockey club. Halak has saved 92 percent of pucks coming his way. It may not seem like it, but that is a big difference.
So, what will help the Islanders the most is to save their ace in the hole, Halak, as much as they can. Giving him a day off here and there to stay fresh will be huge come the end of the season, but they do not want to forfeit games in doing so. If Johnson can step in and play solidly in the crease, the Islanders will benefit greatly in the long run.
The barn will sure be rocking if he does.