Isles goalie battle thickens in 1-0 loss to Lightning

In the 1-0 loss to the Lightning, the Islanders were beat by a goalie who had the night of his three-game-old career. Including the nifty blocker save on Kyle Okposo's charging wrist shot in the final minute, Mike McKenna had an answer for every Islanders shot.

Game Summary | Event Summary | nhl.com Recap (Isles)

But what intrigued me about this game was another strong performance from Yann Danis. Since the beginning of this season, I've coached myself and readers (yes, him too) to find the joy in watching what was known to be a mulligan of a season from the beginning. A losing season can be alright to endure -- can let you stop and smell the hockey roses, even -- if you know at the start that it's likely to play out that way, and if you know the act should lead to better seasons down the line.

When expectations are low for Year Zero of the rebuild, it's easier to stomach losses -- particularly when you get to gauge the progress of the youngsters in the process.

But what was unexpected from this year's lab experiment was the goaltending evaluation we're about to watch down the stretch. Particularly when Scott Gordon chose Joey MacDonald over Yann Danis 17 starts in a row, you got the feeling that Danis had no chance in being part of this picture.

Now, though, after Danis found his groove during MacDonald's injury, it's a whole new ballgame. Particularly with the change in Gordon's tune: from "Yann can do better" to Yann's playing "like a true No. 1" in this league, suddenly we have one more Year Zero development battle to watch.

With Rick DiPietro's health a perennial unknown, the Isles could easily try to bring back both of these guys for next year. But if both continue to shine, they could easily draw offers from other teams who will promise them a top-two job rather than the prospect of again sitting in the AHL waiting for DiPietro to get hurt and open up a spot again.

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