Goalies. They are unpredictable, they wear funny pads, and they are not to be trusted. The whole evaluative process is colored by luck and context and health and trusting the mental makeup of someone who likes to dress up in a mask and have rubber thrown at him but only at certain times and never at the head. They go through "funks" that color their numbers, they go on hot streaks that make you worship them, they fall victim to (or gain praise from) variance in special teams production. Over the long-haul they can sort of best be judged by their even-strength save percentage, but that doesn't do much for small samples within one half season.
Through a full season one goalie might get significantly more goal support than his tandem partner, leading fans into elaborate theories that the team "just plays better" in front of one goalie or the other. Maybe so, maybe not. Sounds fishy or at least inconclusive, but I don't blame anyone for theorizing. I've had a boss or two who didn't get my A game.
That's why we talk it out here. And do the "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" drill: "Yeah, you there, with the cool mask, you made me laugh and made those game-saving stops. So 1,000 points to you. Now read the credits."
Incidentally, that's why we have a bunch of goalies at this site. They're crazy and unpredictable, but funny and insightful. (Not me, though I have dressed as a goalie from time to time to get inside what makes this curious species tick. Turns out it's bacon. Just...bacon.)
The Islanders have used four goalies this year. To varying degrees, two have been revered, two have been scapegoated among a slight plurality of fans. None has a sample larger than 20 freaking games.
One is the past (though he's fending off time's march in Tampa). One might be the future. One is signed for the past, present and future. All of this can change in a week.
Dwayne Roloson: Expelled
|2010 (NYI only) - Dwayne Roloson||20||1206||6-13-1||0||53||2.61||629||576||.918||.923|
He came, he saw, he fetched the Isles Ty Wishard. But tributes to Roloson's time here are for another thread. What was important in Roloson's 2010-11 with the Isles was that he ran with the reins after Rick DiPietro received a chunk of early starts and, despite shouldering the bulk of that 14-game winless streak where the offense could do no right, Roloson kept the team in most putrid games that might have broken a younger goalie.
By New Year's Eve, he was authoring an OT win in Detroit that capped a first half good enough to convince another team to send the Islanders a decent prospect for his services. Basically, when Garth Snow made a two-year bet on Roloson via free agency as a bridge to either a repaired DiPietro or the Next Young Thing in line, this is what he must've had in mind from Roli.
Grade: A-minus, but transferred to a pricier private school before his final exam
Rick DiPietro: Hip Good, Knee Barks Twice, Groin Needs Attention
|2010 - Rick DiPietro||16||938||6-6-4||1||54||3.45||487||433||.889||.893|
Well, the key to this season for DiPietro was how his knee would respond to repeated use. That part's still unclear. Publicly it has swelled enough for concern twice. The most notable swelling -- which allowed Nathan Lawson to get a spot start shortly before Roloson was traded -- was followed by an impressive defeat of the Penguins in the shootout. Naturally, in the next game his groin announced its presence in Calgary.
Thanks goodness the season is 82 games, because 41 games through this one we still don't know what to reasonably expect from post-rehab DiPietro.
In grading him, he gets some consideration for the long ordeal of coming back from rehab, and the fact he played better in the second quarter than he did in the first. (Save % in his last seven starts: .914). There were definitely games where you saw the DiPietro of old; in several of his wins, he was a major factor. However for the whole first half there is also the .889 save % (fed by some blowouts), continued health concerns that affect what he could provide the team, and a maddening tendency to overplay pucks in situations that are not worth the risk.
Grade: D+ (Passes the term and can bring his grade up next semester, but frequent absences and uneven recovery from illness hamper his grade.)
Nate the Late (Bloomer) Lawson
|2010 - Nathan Lawson||4||165||0-2-1||0||11||4.00||112||101||.902||.907|
It's been a long, long road to the NHL for the 27-year-old, and now he has a half season to show he belongs. He had a nice first game that was spoiled somewhat by giving up the tying goal late and allowing conversions on all three shootout attempts for the SOL.
Was yanked before the first beer was poured in Edmonton (2 goals on 3 shots), and actually has fewer minutes than Kevin Poulin. Then he was hung out to dry in the Blackhawks blowout, a lethargic team effort on a back-to-back at the end of a long trip.
So far, his shootout form is a concern, but then so was Roloson's in his first few shootouts as an Islanders goalie. A possible concern is backing in too much on breakaways, leaving net open when normally playing aggressively and using his size is a strength.
So can he be an NHL backup? This second term will determine that.
Grade: Incomplete, trending flat, needs to graduate this year or else
Kevin Poulin: It's Early, But It's Nice So Far
|2010 - Kevin Poulin||3||183||1-0-1||0||6||1.97||107||101||.944||.939|
As with Lawson it's way too early for any conclusions, but you at least get a hint. With the exception of last night's impressive 48-save performance against league-leading Vancouver, Poulin drew the two easier assignments: Mop-up duty against Edmonton after the team came out flat, plus the first of the Colorado-Chicago back-to-back.
There was nothing easy about Vancouver, though, and it was his best game in a very young career. Add to that his gaudy AHL stats (10-4-0, 2.13 GAA, .931, 2 shutouts) on a team that is struggling without him, and you have everything you could want so far at age 20.
Aside from good Star Wars-style caption fun, we'll hold off on the coronation. But so far, so good.
Grade: Incomplete, trending upward, will have several academic years before he needs to graduate
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All in all, the Isles have run the gamut this year, from old to young, unrestricted free agents to guys on long-term deals. Each goalie has had his moments. No telling what comes next. They're all crazy.