On the Hot Seat: Where do the Isles go Without Nabokov

Updated: January 23, 2011 at 9:37 am by Alexander Monaghan

On the Hot Seat is a column which will post on every other Saturday and will discuss the likely changes between the pipes at the moment. Think of this as a primer that will go over basically any starting goalie position that might be in jeopardy whatsoever. With the All Star Break next week, we bumped up On the Hot Seat so your team does not go three weeks without it!

Today, the New York Islanders claimed veteran netminder Evgeni Nabokov off waiver from the Detroit Red Wings. The move, which spanned in opinions from brilliant to pointless, ultimately rendered itself unsuccessful with Nabokov choosing to stay at home rather than play for a cellar dweller.

With Nathan Lawson apparently awaiting results for an MRI, the Isles find themselves reliant on the recently ill Rick DiPietro and 20-year-old rookie Kevin Poulin; the latter of which they prefer to develop in Bridgeport, with the Sound Tigers of the AHL. However, at no point this season has DiPietro seemed capable of handling the number one position for a sustained period of time as he has yet to make a back-to-back start.

This situation likely will not be resolved today, but honestly who cares? A team trying to earn back the respect of the League and likely their fans just seems to be digging a deeper and deeper hole. We characterize a scenario like this as ‘On Fire’ so monitor our lauded Starting Goalies section moving forward.

On Fire!

Colorado Avalanche

The scenario may seems consistent but the Avs need to make a move in order to stay in the race as playing Craig Anderson continues to fail and Peter Budaj defines a failing starting goalie. Over this calendar year the team only allowed two goals or less three times (out of 10 tries) with two of those three games resulting in losses. Anderson’s save percentage continues to plummet and if the team lets more than 25 shots get to their goalie they will lose more often than not. While we know, or guess, Anderson will continue to get starts, the team will probably make a move with Terry Frei of The Denver Post going so far as to suggest John Grahame.

Washington Capitals

Braden Holtby might get every start until the All Star Break, or he might not. Either one of Semyon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth could get the call but one of them would have to prove themselves healthy first. All three goalies seem capable of becoming an everyday starting goalie, yet none of them have played as consistent as last season’s Jose Theodore– who found a way to win with a stronger Capitals’ offense.

Calgary Flames

In his seventh year in the Flames organization, Miikka Kiprusoff begins his downfall. Regarded as an all-world netminder last season, Kipper fails to show that same success on a struggling Flames team leading to doubters to an ever-growing Henrik Karlsson camp. To be fair to Kiprusoff, he allowed three goals or less between December 5th and January 7th before this recent slump, yet only won seven of his 12 starts over that period. Interim GM Jay Feaster has a lot of decisions to make before the trade deadline and Kiprusoff’s performance not only will effect his playing time but also his likely destination.

Heating Up

Florida Panthers

Tomas Vokoun left Friday’s practice early, but still made the start Friday night. This same injury resurrected itself today with Vokoun getting ruled out for tomorrow’s game.  His counterpart, Scott Clemmensen, threatened his position earlier in the week, leading our very own Reggie Yinger to suggest him as a waiver claim in his Crashing the Net series. If you need a start, he will start tomorrow against a red-hot Devils team that would have won six straight had he not already beaten them during that stretch. Regardless, it sounds like Clemmensen could get two of the next three starts.

Los Angeles Kings

Jonathan Quick continues to struggle with winning games as the team’s last win came with rookie Jonathan Bernier between the pipes. Although Quick’s last two losses came via hard-luck, so did Bernier’s last outcome with the Kings only scoring two goals over their last three games. Quick still sits in the top five in GAA with a 2.20 but his luck better turn around in order to fend off more Bernier starts.

Cooling Down

New Jersey Devils

A quick glance at the schedule would show Martin Brodeur started four of the last five games and is expected to start tomorrow. Johan Hedberg played well enough to win today, earning his coach’s praise but simply put: Jacques and Marty go way back. This hot streak could ride its way into a playoff berth and if the Devils are to try it will be with their Hall of Fame netminder in 99 percent of their games. In other words. as long as the Devils stay hot, Brodeur should start most games.

Philadelphia Flyers

Three of the Flyers’ last four wins have come with rookie Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes. After allowing six goals in their 7-5 loss to the Bruins, Brian Boucher looked shaky, narrowly defeating the Rangers last Sunday then losing to the Devils today. Bob looks like the guy for now which bodes well for his long-term value. Expect Bobrovsky to get every opportunity to build on his winning ways, starting tomorrow in Chicago.

We hope you enjoyed our segment on starting goalies and fending off their backups as much as we enjoyed writing it.  If there are glaring omissions such as the hot start of Cory Schneider or your love affair for Brent Johnson, let your voice be heard in the comments. Regardless, make sure to take all of the advice in and continue to check our renowned starting goalies section, which is updated all day until game time.

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