Found January 27, 2012 on Red Light District Hockey:
Detroit_red_wings_91ca

Photobucket
It was just last season that Evgeni Nabokov wouldn’t report to Long Island when the Islanders claimed him on waivers. Nearly a year later he has become a key component to the Islanders' recent hot stretch.

Nabokov got his chance to take the reins as the Isles' starting netminder after Al Montoya left the Dec. 20 game against the Winnipeg Jets. While Montoya did not start or play in another game until Jan. 24 against the Maple Leafs, Nabokov started in 15 of the next 17 games for after that, going 8-7 in that stretch. Overall, he’s posted a 2.38 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage this season.

To put into perspective how well Nabokov has played, during the week of Jan. 16 he did two things, one, which hadn’t been done since 2007, and the other hadn’t been done since 1997. On Tuesday of that week, Nabokov was the first Islanders goaltender to shut out the Washington Capitals since Tommy Salo did it on March 7,1997. Two days later he backstopped the Islanders to their first win in Philadelphia in five years.

After many a game you will hear Islanders head coach Jack Capuano utter something along the lines of, “Nabby played great tonight,” or "Nabby kept us in the game.” His teammates also are highly vocal at praising Nabokov’s play after games; 99 percent of the time the praise is warranted since Nabokov has made impeccable saves nearly every night.

But now that Montoya is back, it will be another guessing game of who will be the starter. And whether the Islanders will even keep Nabokov passed the trade deadline.

Since the begging of the season, the consensus opinion was that he would be traded before or at the trade deadline. Some fans still see his starts this season as “showcase” starts, but in reality he has truly earned them and earned the opportunity to stay longer than just up until the trade deadline.

With Rick Dipietro out at least until the end of the season, keeping Nabokov would sustain what has been a surprisingly solid goaltending tandem this season on Long Island. The Islanders, while still barely clinging to playoff hopes, still have some possibility to making a run at the postseason. Not to mention possibly re-signing Nabokov once the season is up and try to keep a solid tandem together.

For now the short-term questions are how many games will he start after the All-Star break and will he still be an Islander past the trade deadline? The longer-term question, should he still be on Long Island after Feb. 27, would he want to stay in an Isles jersey for another season?

He is certainly deserving of the chance to.

Photo credit: Getty Images

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Video: John Tavares in the Breakaway Challenge

Islanders All-Star John Tavares participated in the breakaway challenge during tonight’s NHL All-Star Skills Competition. While Tavares’s first attempt was less than stellar, he mad up for it in the second and third attempts. During his second attempt Tavares managed to lift the puck up and bat it out of the air, while goaltender Carey Price was “Tebowing.” In case you missed...

Video: John Tavares at All-Star Game Media Day

Today was NHL All-Star media day up in Ottawa and John Tavares made the rounds. Including sitting down to chat with NHL Network. In all honesty it was not one of the greatest interviews, the female host thought Tavares still had his 12 game point streak intact and mistakenly thought he was on Team Chara. However, John did discuss how he nearly arrived late for the draft and revealed...

Meet Nino Niederreiter at the Islanders team store

Fans, here’s another chance to meet one of your New York Islanders and get a great deal at the Islanders team store!  Nino Niederreiter will be signing autographs, taking pictures and talking to fans at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5...

Video: John Tavares Speaks After All-Star Draft

Following last night’s NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft E.J. Hradek spoke with Islanders all-star John Tavares. They chatted about Tavares’s thoughts on the draft and how worried he was about being the last pick in the draft.

Dee Karl: John Tavares: All Star

So here we are. Thursday after back-to-back losses to the Maple Leafs without hockey. But we do have All Star goings-on, don't we? While JT was the subject of many north-of-the-border articles as one of Canada's favorite sons, he still belongs to us here on the Island and showed his devotion to the Isles by working harder than anyone else on the ice on Monday and Tuesday...
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.