New York Islanders Start Jaroslav Halak, Again.

By James McDermott

With Jack Capuano announcing earlier today that Jaroslav Halak will be making his fifth consecutive start tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning it has me wondering if, and when, we will next see backup goaltender Chad Johnson.

Johnson has been shaky in his brief tenure on Long Island, but he brought in to provide support to Halak, a netminder that has never played more than 60 games in an NHL regular season, and only started 63 total games in 2009-10 for the Montreal Canadiens, including 18 starts in the postseason. Halak is the unquestioned number one goaltender on the Isles, a team with aspirations of making a splash in this year’s playoffs. A goal they will not be able to achieve without a sharp Jaroslav Halak.

Halak came to Long Island to be the goaltender on an NHL team, something he has never truly had the opportunity to do in the past, and something he has proven that he is capable of with his terrific performance so far this season, but at some point Johnson must be called upon to give Halak a break.

Right now it seems Capuano is unwilling to turn to his number two. To me, this is an issue.

After starting five games in October, Johnson has appeared in only five games since, and only once in December.

With this weekend’s back to back games, Johnson should have gotten the nod in one of them. There is no reason that a team that is not desperate for points, which the Islanders are not, should be unable to give their goaltender a night off. Right now Halak has started the 13th most games among NHL goaltenders, a position I am very comfortable with, but with his lack of experience starting for an entire season, I would be reluctant to allow him to be among the league leaders in games played unless the Islanders are in danger of missing the post season.

The Isles do not have another set of back to back games until January 9th and 10th against the New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets. At this point I think it is realistic that Johnson may not see the ice before those games. If that is the case, Halak would have started 12 straight games.

Halak has been outstanding for the Islanders, there can be no debate about that, but we, as fans, want him to be at his best when it matters most, in the playoffs. Not overextending him in the middle of the season could provide huge dividends later on.

Feel free to tell me you think we will next see Chad Johnson, or that I’m crazy for worrying about the workload of a pro athlete, in the comments.