Evgeni Nabokov could be back on Islanders’ radar
The last stretch of the Islanders’ season isn’t just for evaluating the young players who have been rotating through the lineup.
Evgeni Nabokov, for example, isn’t signed for next season. He’s had two injuries, including a groin problem that cost him a month and left the Isles hanging during their ugly November and December.
But he showed on Sunday a little bit of why the Islanders might be interested in a fourth season employing the 38-year-old in a backup role next season.
Most obvious were the 41 saves in a 2-0 win over the Blue Jackets, including 33 in the final two periods. Nabokov has lamented not making the key save at key times. His .912 even-strength save percentage ranks ahead of only the Devils’ Cory Schneider and Martin Brodeur among NHL goaltenders who start a majority of their team’s games.
“I thought we were a little better in our zone,” Nabokov said of his teammates, who packed the slot and were more alert in clearing rebounds than they have been in most of their games this season.
There also is his demeanor. He’s serious during games — any fan at the Coliseum wondering who’s screaming “Out! Out!” when the puck is in the Islanders’ zone need only look to the crease — and less than serious afterward. When asked on the ice by MSG Network if he ever envisioned 57 career shutouts, Nabokov deadpanned, “I’m retiring now?”