Originally written on Red Light District Hockey  |  Last updated 11/9/14

SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 09: Evgeni Nabokov #20 of the San Jose Sharks walks through the tunnel on his way to the ice for their game against the Detroit Red Wings at HP Pavilion on January 9, 2010 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)


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

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Yankees don't want to pay A-Rod home run bonuses

Kobe Bryant needs surgery, likely out for season

Browner wants Patriots to injure Sherman, Thomas

Report: NFL has potential video evidence with Deflategate

Report: Rams, other teams interested in Nick Foles

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Tom Brady: 'My feelings got hurt' in Deflategate controversy

Odell Beckham Jr. says he played with two hamstring tears

Report: A-Rod apologized to new MLB commissioner

Pete Carroll empathizes with Belichick, Pats in Deflategate

Max Scherzer thanks Tigers with full page newspaper ad

Ray Lewis: Patriots should have asterisk for cheating

Allenby rang up $3,400 strip club bill on night of 'kidnapping'

Brady's dad: QB's relationship with Pats 'will end badly'

The five best Super Bowl defenses of all time

Mark Brunell explains why he got emotional over Deflategate

NFL was profiting off Marshawn Lynch's crotch grab

NFL finally getting its own YouTube channel

20 most amazing stats in Super Bowl history

Six X-factors who could make an impact in Super Bowl XLIX

Five potentially fatal flaws for Patriots in the Super Bowl

49 Stops to Super Bowl XLIX

WATCH: Opposing Packers celebrate Pro Bowl TD

WATCH: Sherman, Peterson hug it out at Pro Bowl

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!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

More questions about Allenby's story

Yanks don't want to pay A-Rod bonuses

Kobe Bryant likely out for the season

Looking back at Super Bowls 1-48

Super Bowl MVPs through the years

The five best Super Bowl defenses

NFL has Deflategate video evidence?

Burnell explains why he got emotional

NFL was profiting off Lynch's gesture

NFL finally getting YouTube channel

20 amazing stats in Super Bowl history

Tom Brady: 'My feelings got hurt'

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.