|Nabby shouldn't be as worn down in 2013-14.|
Let me make this clear. I think, as an overall roster, what you see now is most likely what you will see on the Nassau Coliseum ice in October - not because they don't care, not because they aren't trying, but because, with the players the Islanders have now, it's what makes sense.
Admittedly, the defense isn't top-notch. Improving the D can be done, but what's available in free agency isn't going to make much of a difference on Long Island, if Garth chose to go that route. Via trade, top defensemen aren't usually made readily available, so unless you feel that landing Bruno Gervais would be cause for a celebration, your trade proposal probably isn't viable.
From the inquiries I received, however, it would seem that most of you are still mostly concerned with the Islanders' current goaltending situation - most notably Evgeni Nabokov, who many of you seem skeptical about his ability to carry any type of workload next season. Well, Isles' fans. I'm here to reassure you. Trust in Evgeni Nabokov for just one more year. He won't be overworked during the 2013-14 season.
Sorry, Isles' fans. A lot of the complaining about Evgeni Nabokov is much ado about nothing. You're right. He had a terrible postseason performance. You also wouldn't be wrong if you said that Nabokov had a tendency to allow soft goals over the course of the season. That being said, Nabokov was a rock in the final two months of the 2013 season, only getting better as the season progressed.
Nabby started the year on the wrong foot. He had a sub-.900 SV% through the month of February, and a GAA that ballooned over 3.00. Can you really blame him, though?
When the NHL season started in January, Nabokov's last in-game action came in April of 2013, where he as carried off the ice due to an injury. Nabokov took the summer to recover, and was then forced to sit out the next several months following his recovery, mostly due to the NHL lockout. He wasn't active during the game's layoff, but dormant as NHL negotiations came back. Forgive Nabby for a little bit of rust.
Then, not realizing and/or acknowledging how well he played when the workload increased, many of you feel he was overworked, or tired by the time the playoffs came around. That may be true, however, it's also true that Nabokov's Islanders went up against the league's best offense during the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. I am going to fall short in 100% defending Nabby for his playoff performance because some of the goals were bad, but the defense left him out to dry on several occasions.
Let's make this clear, though. If you're worried about Nabokov playing 55-60 games next season, I'm going to tell you that your point is short-sighted. As you get caught up with his playoff collapse, step back and realize that the demands of the 2013-14 season is going to be nothing in comparison to the demands of the lockout-shortened 2013 campaign.
In the shortened season, the Islanders only had one instance where they had three consecutive days off without a game to be played. Despite this, Nabokov started 41 of the Islanders' 48 games spanning from January 19th to April 26th - partly due to the lack of a better option, and partly due to every game being a "must win," and the need to start your team's starting goalie in those "must win" games.
In 2013-14, the Islanders will not be playing a condensed schedule, nor will every game be a "must win" - at least not at the very beginning of the season. Kevin Poulin will be asked to jump in from time-to-time, which will allow Nabokov to get, at times, four, maybe five days of rest in between starts. Not to mention, the NHL will be taking off two weeks during the Olympics. Nabokov, most likely, will not be a member of Team Russia in February, so that break should serve as time-off for the Islanders' starting goalie, with approximately 25% of the season left to play.
So, yes. Evgeni Nabokov will be getting more rest throughout the 2013-14 season than he was accustomed to during the previous season.
And even if Nabby played 65-70 games, which wouldn't be ideal, why should we panic? Again, Nabby played well when the workload was increased. Did you see his numbers in those final two months? In April alone, Nabby started 11 games in 26 days, went 7-0-4 with a .928 SV %, his best month since February 2012. Nabby went on to finish the season with a .910 SV%, much in part to his .918 SV% from the beginning of March through the end of the season.
Islanders' fans: let's stop panicking, even if it's just this once. For one more season, Evgeni Nabokov will be the Islanders' starting goaltender, and for one more year, he should come through in a big way for the Islanders. Without Nabby's performance with an increased workload, the Islanders would have never made the playoffs.
In Nabby we trust.
I'm Chris Triants, and this is my blog.
Let's go Islanders!