Call an exorcist: Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin hurt in warmups, Mikko Koskinen gets surprise start

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The Islanders might want to considering calling in an exorcist at Nassau Coliseum. Before the start of tonight’s game, rookie goalie Kevin Poulin injured his leg during warmups in preparation for tonight’s game with Toronto. Poulin was simply skating in warmups but appeared to catch a rut in the ice and went down. With Poulin out of action, fellow rookie netminder Mikko Koskinen got the call to make his first career NHL start.

Poulin was getting the start tonight because Rick DiPietro is out with facial fractures and a swollen knee after his one-sided fight against Pittsburgh’s Brent Johnson. Nathan Lawson is also out of action for at least another week as he and Poulin are the other guys out of Bridgeport that get the call to be DiPietro’s backup. Koskinen is the fifth goalie to start a game for the Islanders this season joining DiPietro, Lawson, Poulin, and the departed Dwayne Roloson who now starts in Tampa Bay.

While many panned the Islanders for grabbing Evgeni Nabokov off waivers when the Red Wings attempted to sign him, it’s become all too obvious why they tried to get the NHL veteran on the cheap from waivers. Of course, you have to wonder what they might’ve been thinking when Tampa Bay’s Mike Smith went unclaimed on waivers just last week.

For now, the Islanders have to start wondering if part of Charles Wang’s Lighthouse Project is to figure out which curse they’ve unearthed by being located on Long Island. Perhaps the Amityville horror was actually located in Hempstead.

Goalie nods: Niemi expected for Stars against Penguins

Antti Niemi, Jonathan Toews
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Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Antti Niemi is expected to be the starting goalie tonight in Dallas when his Stars host Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Evgeni Malkin and the rest of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Niemi has, not surprisingly, been given the assignment over Kari Lehtonen, the latter of whom struggled badly during the preseason, allowing 15 goals on 84 shots.

Not that Niemi was razor sharp himself. He allowed eight goals on 65 shots, for a save percentage of .877.

Considering the Stars have a combined $10.4 million in cap space tied up in those two veteran netminders, it’s no wonder the number-one question facing the club is whether the goaltending has indeed been fixed.

We’ll start to find out tonight.

Marc-Andre Fleury will undoubtedly be in goal for Pittsburgh, though that hasn’t been confirmed.


Craig Anderson, the goalie the Senators decided to keep, versus Robin Lehner, the one they traded to the Sabres.

Cam Ward will start for Carolina when the Hurricanes visit the Predators, who will obviously go with Pekka Rinne. The consensus is that Eddie Lack will eventually supplant Ward as Carolina’s starter, but that apparently hasn’t happened yet.

Brian Elliott goes for the Blues versus Cam Talbot for the Oilers. Elliott was excellent in the preseason, stopping all but two of the 57 shots he faced, while Jake Allen allowed six goals on 60 shots.

Steve Mason for the Flyers versus Ben Bishop for the Lightning.

Ondrej Pavelec for Winnipeg versus Tuukka Rask for Boston.

Devan Dubnyk likely for the Wild versus Semyon Varlamov for the Avs.

Flyers want to prove doubters wrong

Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux
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Jakub Voracek totally understands why nobody’s expecting much from the Philadelphia Flyers. When a team finishes 14 points out of the playoffs the year before, that’s typically going to be the case.

“We weren’t good enough last year, let’s face it,” Voracek told CSN Philly. 

So, no, it doesn’t upset him that the Flyers aren’t considered among the Stanley Cup favorites.

That being said, “it makes you feel you want to prove them wrong.”

The Flyers get going tonight with a tough game against the Lightning in Tampa Bay. They also play Saturday in Florida against the Panthers, before a rematch with the Panthers Monday in Philadelphia.

“My biggest concern would be getting off to a good start,” GM Ron Hextall said. “That’s one thing that we need to do.”

That’s something they didn’t do last year. In fact, they won just once in their first six games. By the end of November, they were 8-12-3 and in a big hole — one that proved too deep to climb out of.

Related: Flyers to start season with seven defensemen