Do not panic.
Yes, the Islanders confirmed everyone's worst fear this morning by placing starting goalie Jaroslav Halak on injured reserve (retroactive to December 20) with a lower body injury and recalling Kevin Poulin from Bridgeport on his second emergency call-up this week. So sayeth Staple:
#Isles place Jaroslav Halak (lower body) on injured reserve. Kevin Poulin recalled.— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) December 27, 2014
Halak IR retro to 12/20. #Isles— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) December 27, 2014
No, this is not optimal for the Islanders. Halak's back-up Chad Johnson has a 5-5-0 record and an .867 save percentage, both significant steps down from Halak's 18-6-0 and .919. Johnson was the surprise starter for Tuesday's game against Montreal and, despite turning in arguably his best performance since his October hot streak and his team owning all of the corsis against the Canadiens, came out the loser.
This did little to settle the minds of Islanders fans hoping Halak's "maintenance days" were just a little extended rest time for the hard-working starter.
Poulin has a 10-6-1 record and a .928 save percentage for Bridgeport this season. Last night, he shut out the Providence2-0 but was held back from the team's road trip just for this situation. In his stints with the big club, including a good chunk of last season, Poulin has alternated from spectacular (his 50-save performance in San Jose last December) to suspect and he finished 11-16/.891 in 28 games.
In Poulin's defense, those numbers placed him second among Islanders goalies, which tells you all you need to know about how last season went and why the traumatic flashbacks are coming on hard among the fanbase right now.
The Islanders are 23-11-0 and in second place in the Metro Division two days after Christmas. That's good. Their top-six defense is finally back to full health (knock on wood). Halak is eligible to return from IR before the team's big road trip that starts on Wednesday in Winnipeg and takes them through Western Canada and then back east. That's also good.
Johnson has not been good, but this isn't the end of the world, or the season. The next 2-3 games will be painful, nail-biting affairs. But if there was ever an acceptable time to lose your starting goalie, this is as close as you can get.
Let's not take it too long, though. Okay Jaro?