After taking a tough loss in their first game in Brooklyn, the New York Islanders looked to rebound the following night. It didn’t quite go the Islanders’ way, getting shut out for the second night in a row, this time a 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators in Nashville. The biggest problem during the two shut out losses is the lack of offense. Nobody has been able to score even though the chances have been there. During this small preseason slump, there has been one bright spot. That has been the play of Andres Nilsson in net.
Heading into training camp, everybody knew that Evgeni Nabokov was going to be the top goalie for this team. That was pretty much a given. The big debate was who was going to be Nabokov’s backup. Is it Kevin Poulin, who was the backup last year, or is it going to be Nilsson? Part of me still has that gut feeling that Poulin will win out the job as backup based on past experience and a slightly better playing style, but after the way he played last night Nilsson made a strong case for himself. Against the Predators, Nilsson allowed two goals on 25 shots, but the second goal, the one scored by Austin Watson, is one Nilsson would have wanted back. Other than that he looked good in net again.
Nilsson has size on his side, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 227 pounds, which allows him to take up more of the net than most other goalies in the league. He does have a little NHL experience, as he played four games for the Islanders during the 2011-12 season, going 1-2 with a 2.75 GAA and a.917 SV%. So he does have a taste for playing the game at the highest level. Only problem is Nilsson just doesn’t have enough experience at this level for my liking yet to serve as Nabokov’s backup.
The way he has played in camp really makes you think that Nilsson is ready to take that next step and settle in as a backup in this league. Again, I still feel that Poulin has the job as the Islanders backup at the moment. Nilsson has been giving him a run for his money as a possible backup, and if he keeps playing the rest of camp the way he did against the Predators, then there is a good chance Nilson could see more playing time with the Islanders this year.