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More Likely: Nabokov Plays 62, or DiPietro Plays 15?

Pittsburgh, Oct. 27. That was weird.
Pittsburgh, Oct. 27. That was weird.

In a continuation of our "Which Is More Likely?" series, stolen directly from Silver Seven, we tackle a goaltending question: Assuming no lockout (ha!), which is more likely in 2012-13: Evgeni Nabokov plays 62 games at age 37, or oft-injured Rick DiPietro plays 15?

Nabokov played 42 games last season in what started as a three-goalie time-share. He wrested control of the starter's reins, but his season also ended early due to injury once the starter's job was his. He played 77, 62, and 71 games in his final three seasons in San Jose. but before that he was below 60 games for four seasons. He has "workhorse goalie" in his history, but he also has age and some past injuries that might lead you to think the horse can't carry quite that load again.

DiPietro's story almost needs no rehashing. But in three of the last four seasons, an assortment of injuries from hip to knee to groin to abdomen have kept him short of 10 games played. In 2010-11 he did manage 26 games, though I'd argue his appearance and his stats would indicate many of those games were under duress. (Even his 20-save shutout of the Devils looked untested and not quite comfortable.)

The Islanders have Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson as up-and-coming insurance and they aren't afraid to use them. But for now, DiPietro is off IR and ready to give it another go after sports hernia surgery kept him from appearing in a game in 2012.

Another way of framing this question is: How many NHL games will Poulin and/or Nilsson see in 2012-13? The Isles used five different goalies last year.