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Friday, January 20, 2012

Nabokov - What a difference a Year Makes

1 year ago today, the Detroit Red Wings signed free agent goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to a one-year contract.

Of course he would then have to clear waivers to play for Detroit, and when the Islanders claimed him that effectively ended his stay in Detroit.  He didn't report last year, but after working out his differences (and having his contract tolled), Nabokov has become, at the very least, the #1a/1b goaltender for the Islanders.

Nabokov, now 9-11-0, has played himself into the league leader board in GAA.  He's ranked 16th at 2.42, just ahead of Pekka Rinne -- and you saw first-hand on Monday how good Rinne can be.  He is 25th in save % (.916) -- just .001 behind stable-mate Al Montoya.

After starting 2-8-0, Nabokov is 7-3-0 in his last ten decisions, and with the exception of some stick-handling issues has been brilliant in his last five appearances (4-1-0, 1.41 GAA and 1 shutout).

Nabokov has also helped stabilize what had been a major issue for the Isles this season: third periods.  He's actually allowed fewer goals in the third period (14) than in the first (16) or second (18).

If he continues his recent play, the former Calder Trophy winner might just play the Isles into playoff contention, and himself into the "Comeback Player of the Year" discussion.

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since January 21, 1982. Visit my blog: NYISkinny.com and follow me on Twitter @ehornick

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