The New Year may be just four days old, but there’s already a lot of juicy goalie news. From the Islanders who traded Dwayne Roloson, to the Flyers who waived Michael Leighton, let’s get right into it.
New York Islanders
The Islanders are on a mini-roll, having gone 7-1-1 in their past eight games. But the team has a long way to go, so on Saturday night it traded Roloson to the Lightning for minor-league defenseman Ty Wishart. Roloson had started five of the Isles’ past six games, going 4-1 allowing 13 goals in that time, on the heels of a 12-game losing streak for him. The Islanders called up rookie Nathan Lawson, who started one game a few weeks ago (he stopped 32 of 35 shots in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Coyotes). Rick DiPietro started on Monday, and as I was writing this column and watching the Islanders’ game, managed to get hurt yet again. DiPietro left the game five minutes into the second period with an abductor strain that the team called “precautionary.” Lawson came in and played brilliantly, stopping 29 of 30 shots in his hometown of Calgary. If DP is hurt, the Isles may have to call on Kevin Poulin from Bridgeport or perhaps go after Leighton off waivers. Even if he isn’t hurt, the Isles play four road games in seven days and 13 in the month of January, and an even more astounding 14 games in February, so Lawson will see more than his share of work.
New Jersey Devils
Death, taxes and Martin Brodeur starting 70-plus games and winning 30-plus: those have been sure-fire things for years, but this season, it’s been a different animal for the Devils. Brodeur has gone just 5-18-1 with a very un-Brodeurlike 3.15 GAA and .885 SV% (both career worsts). He has won back-to-back games just once this season and lost five games in a row for the first time in his 17-year career. What does it all mean for the Devils? Expect a heavy dose of Johan Hedberg. He is starting Tuesday night against Minnesota after coach Jacques Lemaire said it was time for a change. Brodeur allowed three goals in eight minutes and was yanked in favor of Hedberg in a 6-3 loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday night. With the Devils’ season already over, Hedberg will probably see a lot more action. There’s no reason to increase Brodeur’s work load- he is 38 and still has one year on his contract after this season. If you drafted Brodeur first overall in your fantasy league like I did, you’re probably kicking yourself when you look at Sidney Crosby or Steven Stamkos’s stats.
Everyone wondered what the Flyers were going to do when Leighton returned from his back injury. The answer: the Flyers waived him on Monday. He played one game this season, looking rather rusty in allowing four goals in a 7-4 win against the Kings. With Brian Boucher and Sergei Bobrovksy both playing well, the Flyers opted to make Leighton the odd man out…for now. If nobody claims him, he’ll go down to the AHL and get conditioned, and then the Flyers will have another decision on their hands. Boucher has allowed more than two goals only once in his past nine outings, and Bobrovsky has allowed 11 goals in his last 120 minutes of action. Bobrovsky is technically still the number one goalie on this team, but right now, you have to start Boucher if you have him, as coach Peter Laviolette loves to ride the hot hand.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Since J.S. Giguere was shelved with his latest groin injury, Jonas Gustavsson had started five consecutive games until rookie James Reimer started the past two. We’ll rule out Giguere for any games this week, since coach Ron Wilson said that he needs another week to heal. The Monster has not lived up to expectations, posting a 5-12-2 record with a GAA north of 3.00 and a save percentage south of .900, posting just two wins over his past 11 games, so why not give the youngster a chance? Reimer won his first game 5-1 over the Senators, and lost a tough game on Monday night, 2-1 to the Bruins. He’s made 67 saves on 70 shots this season, so don’t be surprised to see him in net Thursday against the Blues.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning’s crease is more crowded than Times Square on New Year’s Eve. The aforementioned Roloson immediately takes over the reins and will start Tuesday night against the Capitals. Cedrick Desjardins, the rookie who had started the past two games (going 2-0, allowing two goals on 63 shots) was sent down to the AHL on Sunday. That leaves the Lightning with the injured Mike Smith and the struggling Dan Ellis. Smith has been out since December 18 with a knee injury, but he very well could have played his last game in a Lightning uniform. With Desjardins in the minors, the Lightning will probably look to move Smith or Ellis. Smith is more injury prone, while Ellis has more potential and experience. Look for Roloson to start most of the games for the Lightning and Ellis to assume backup duties.