Picture this in your head. You know when you witness a goalie change in the middle of the game? The game seems out of reach, coach makes a decision, and when the change is made the team feels like it could be the beginning of a fresh start, a chance to come back. The backup skates over to the crease while the starter heads for the bench, each of them either tapping each others pads with their sticks or they do a quick helmet to helmet knock in which the starter wishes the backup good luck. The starter is now a backup.
For Rick Dipietro, the former starter who now heads for the bench, allows Kevin Poulin take over the reigns as the new Islanders goaltender (Nabokov was always going to be a temp.) Poulin has finally arrived. Fans have their wish, but be careful what you wish for. There is no question Rick DiPietro has not been the same player since 2008 due to unheard of rash of injuries, but can you name another Islanders goalie before or since 2008 to have 60+ games played and 25+ wins? I didn’t think so. Chris Osgood did it in 2002 and if you want to do the research in the 1990’s, by all means indulge yourself, but you get my point. Poulin, the new starter, has some big shoes to fill.
Now, by all measures, this was a good move because the Islanders did not have a backup goaltender issue, they have goaltending issues, meaning both goalies have not played to even their averages. If the Islanders are concerned about winning, and I believe that they are, they should play the hot goaltender and just run with him. We all know that Nabokov has no time, nor does he want to mentor Poulin and that’s fine. If Poulin shows a hot streak, Nabokov can sit for a week and whine about it while Poulin, the next Islanders starter, can begin his professional career. For this season only, the Islanders will have to rely on Tavares and Poulin.
As for one of my favorite players, I wouldn’t write him off just yet. The former starter and face of the franchise needs playing time to get any kind of game back and the minors will be a great place for him for this season. To be honest, he should have been there when this season started. If by seasons end DiPietro can show any resemblance to what he was and make a decent run into the AHL playoffs, then he could come back next year and be Poulin’s backup, as it should be, but that will be up to the Islanders brass to decide. The passing of the torch has started. Kevin Poulin is here and I believe is ready to lead and I wish him all the best of luck, as a goaltender should. The question is this: Will DiPietro skate to the bench and be the backup or will time/injuries have him walk straight to the dressing room and hang up his skates? Your choice Rick, I wish you luck as well.
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