Note: The "aughts," a regrettable hockey decade in many ways, are coming to a close. Sure, sets of 10 begin with one, not zero -- but picking a starting point when marking time is a subjective human pursuit, like picking your favorite player. We don't call the avocado green appliance decade "the '70s plus 1980," so we're not going to pretend the aughts continue past the fast-approaching Dec. 31, 2009. With that in mind, we'll close out the year by picking our Islanders All-Decade Team. It's a little bit sorrow, a little bit nostalgia, a little bit regret, and a little bit hope.
That speaks not so much to a goalie merry-go-round as to the prominence of three guys: A "15-year" guy whose acquisition defined Mike Milbury decision-making, a future GM who's determined to avoid Milbury's mistakes, and a supposed future Hall of Fame waiver claim whose hot-and-cold 103 games in Orange and Blue was symptomatic of his NHL career.
A poll, and a little more about these guys, after the jump. We'll be tallying votes, but in the comments you can elaborate on your 2000s memories, or even pick who you'd have as backup and third-stringer on the all-decade team.
This data is from Hockey-Reference.com, and the goalies are listed by games played between the 2000-01 season and 2009-10. The years in the "from/to" columns denote the calendar year in which a season ended. (Yes, I left off the last half of the 1999-2000 season; like I said, human markers of time are as subjective as "player X was bad in November but December magically made it all better.")
Rick DiPietro's save percentage includes his developing-on-the-fly years as well as his playing-while-hurt figures from after the 2008 All-Star break. 2006-07's .919 was his high mark, and he was carrying that same form under Ted Nolan into 2007-08 until ... well, you know.
Chris Osgood's 103 games include that bright 32-25-6/2.50/.910 in 2001-02, as well as the 17-14-4/2.92/.894 he put up the following year, when he was dumped to the Blues for Justin Papineau and an exchange of picks that netted Jeremy Colliton. (Yes, a goaltender who would later appear in two more Stanley Cup finals was traded for Justin Papineau -- and it didn't even feel wrong at the time. This is why every "Osgood for the Hall" discussion always feels caveat-heavy unless you're an Osgood fanatic or family member.)
Garth Snow played 24 more games than Osgood, yielding a higher GAA, lower save percentage and fewer shutouts. But bigger pads. Definitely bigger pads.
Heh, Dwayne Roloson after 22 games has by far the highest win/points percentage of the lot. It will be fun to revisit this after this season's over to see where he stands. The flip-side of such small sample sizes and that particular stat: Martin Biron currently has the worst.
Outliers: The highest save percentage on this list belongs to Wade Dubielewicz, but please don't use that for your "he could have been a starter in this league!" argument. (Alright, seriously do whatever you want. This is for fun.) Breaking my plea from the previous sentence, Yann Danis' minimal sample size but lofty numbers tells me, again, that the Maple Leafs picked the wrong Islanders 2B goalie from last season. To be fair, I'm not sure if the new father Danis would've picked Leafs chaos over Lemaire safety anyway.
Your Islanders Goalie of the Decade
So this position was an easy one: For longevity, for prominence, for a star that shined the brightest, for a guy who carried this team the longest, the straight-forward pick for goaltender on the Islanders 2000s All-Decade Team is Rick DiPietro. Injuries and curious contract aside, he's been the man. It is funny, though, that the guy on this list with the most playoff wins in an Islanders uniform is actually Chris Osgood, who picked up three during that exciting 7-game playoff series with the Leafs that I'm, finally, ready to put to bed.
It's somehow fitting that the brightest star is a guy whose career now hangs at the mercy of rehabbed knees and hips; the second-busiest guy became -- overnight -- the club's scoffed-at but actually quite astute GM; while the guy with the most Isles playoff wins in the decade didn't even win a series, continued to hit rock bottom after he left the Island for Justin freaking Papineau, then resurrected his game enough to play a much-maligned role in the Red Wings winning one Cup and falling just short for a second.
If that doesn't paint a representative picture of the Islanders' curious highs and lows in the 2000s, I don't know what does. I heartily look forward to the 2000-teens, where the future looks brighter at this and every other position. Thank god.