Warm up your punchlines everyone, Rick DiPietro is back for the Islanders. New York activated the much maligned goaltender off of injured reserve after he’s missed the last few weeks with a knee injury and facial fractures suffered from his altercation with Penguins goalie Brent Johnson.
DiPietro has once again been on and off the injured list this year leading the Islanders to do awkward and frustrating dances with different goalies this season ranging from Kevin Poulin, to Al Montoya, to Nathan Lawson who was sent down to make room for DiPietro.
DiPietro joins Al Montoya in the crease for the Islanders the rest of the way and while DiPietro’s injuries have been frustrating for the Islanders, making things more frustrating for them is the fact DiPietro had been playing pretty well when he’s been in this year. With Montoya leading the way in goal now the Isles are playing outstanding hockey in the second half of the season. Seeing how DiPietro handles things with a team that doesn’t give up in front of him has the high potential for great entertainment.
We’d be remiss if we neglected to mention that the Islanders also have one more game left this year with Pittsburgh on April 8 in Long Island. We’re hoping that DiPietro at least got a couple boxing lessons during his latest stint on the shelf on the off chance that things get really ugly one more time this year.
Though their 2010-11 season has produced far inferior results, the New York Islanders can relate to the 09-10 version of the Philadelphia Flyers. That Flyers team experienced a ridiculous parade of injuries to their netminders last season, while the Isles have been hit with wave after wave of bad luck for their group.
On the heels of Kevin Poulin’s freak season-ending injury, the Isles decided to acquire a depth goalie in the form of Al Montoya. The team needed another goalie after injuries to Poulin, Nathan Lawson and Rick DiPietro plus the Dwayne Roloson trade.
The Islanders sent a sixth round pick to the Phoenix Coyotes for a netminder who will either take the place of a called-up minor leaguer or possibly get a few NHL reps himself.
Montoya’s career has been a bit of a disappointment considering the fact that he was a 2004 first round draft pick of the New York Rangers, going sixth overall. He produced mediocre minor league numbers in the Coyotes system this season (11-8 record but only a 89.1 save percentage), but does at least one thing well: moving the puck.
Time will tell if Montoya does something with one more opportunity or if he just acts as a warm body in the Islanders’ injury-ravaged goalie rotation.
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.