In February, when Kevin Poulin was shut down for the season, Evgeni Nabokov was feeling uppity and Al Montoya was not yet on the way, I recalled a season where a team used seven goaltenders. But because the New York Islanders are graced by lady luck's sadistic sister, they got to stop at just six goalies last season.
That's still obviously not ideal. Hopefully it's not repeated. They have both potential and quantity going into 2011-12. No sure things -- there are never sure things, but these are even less sure things -- yet enough "this could work"s to at least hope the goaltending will be better than last season's .902 team save percentage.
As discussed over the weekend, each nominee has caveats: DiPietro has the three-year injury odyssey, Montoya has the brief recent history complicated by minor knee surgery over the summer, Poulin is coming off another knee cap dislocation (edit: "Another" as in he had one earlier in his amateur career), ex-All-Star Nabokov is of completely uncertain head and body, and the others are even greener than Poulin.
But any of the first four could conceivably put in a #1's year of work.
So if you had to bet, who carries the load in 2011-12? You can vote for the leader in the poll, but you might also want to explain a deeper breakdown of how things shake out in comments.
Who will log the most starts in the Islanders goal in 2011-12?
Rick DiPietro - The Incumbent (78 votes)
Al Montoya - The Late Bloom Continues (319 votes)
Evgeni Nabokov - The Prodigal Russian (63 votes)
Kevin Poulin - The Prodigy (44 votes)
Mikko Koskinen - The Tower of Finland (1 vote)
Anders Nilsson - The Tower of Sweden (1 vote)
506 total votes