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Al Montoya is the guy helping the Islanders win again

Dec 7, 2011, 10:54 AM EDT

Al Montoya Getty Images

You may not have noticed, but after the Islanders’ 5-1 win over Tampa Bay last night they’ve got 4-0-1 in their last five games. With a point streak like that, the Isles have moved to within four points of New Jersey in the Atlantic Division and the guy they can thank most for it is Al Montoya.

The Islanders headed into this season with a three-headed monster in goal with Montoya, Rick DiPietro, and Evgeni Nabokov. With Nabokov banged up and DiPietro ineffective, Montoya has stepped up huge. His numbers in goal are stunningly great with a goals against just over 2.00 and a save percentage in Tim Thomas territory.

It looks like that three-headed monster is down to just one guy Isles fans have taken to calling the “Big Cubano.”

The Islanders are getting goals to help support Montoya as well and Matt Moulson and John Tavares have stepped up in that regard. Moulson in particular has been pouring in goals at a wild rate with goals in five straight games including a four-goal game against Dallas. While Moulson does the scoring, Tavares and P.A. Parenteau do the assisting.

All of a sudden, the Islanders are looking like the team that we thought we’d see from the get-go this season.

  1. govtminion - Dec 7, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    See if Tampa is interested in Nabokov, make Montoya the starter on Long Island, and have DiPietro ride pine (or is that balsa?). Glad the Isles have finally found a guy that works in net- that roster actually has some talent, my frequent joking aside, but the goaltending has been so horrible at times that it’s hard to tell. Maybe with some real netminding, the rest of the team can start to shine- the playoffs aren’t likely this year, but if Montoya holds, they could be where Toronto was last year- competitive, dangerous, and on the way up.

    • bcisleman - Dec 7, 2011 at 1:22 PM

      Actually the playoffs are not that big a stretch. If they come out of this month–in which they are dealing with some injuries and tough opposition–with between 35 and 40 points, they will have a legit shot. Remember that–even over this recent stretch–JT has not been scoring. He scored last night. If he starts scoring again, Grabs comes back with a hot hand, and the third line continues to do well around a rejuvenated Josh Bailey, watch out!

      • pens919209 - Dec 7, 2011 at 7:50 PM

        Agreed – they have a talented young core of players there. Sometimes all a group like that needs is a solid goaltender who can shore up their defense. If they continue to get solid work from Montoya, I can see these players getting more confident and more creative offensively… and winning more games.

        I’m no Islanders fan, but how fun will it be to see them competitive and exciting to watch again? Throw in the realignment news (i.e. the resurrection of the old Patrick Division + Carolina) and this new ‘conference’ is going to boast some spectacular hockey.

  2. davebrownspiral - Dec 7, 2011 at 11:24 AM

    I’ve been calling for Montoya to be the #1 goalie since game one. The guy played great down the stretch last year, and was 9-5 on a team that finished 9 games under .500 last year. He went 3-1-1 to start this year, and then Capuano, in his genius didn’t start the guy for a month, instead opting for a 37 year old Nabakov (who at this point is a borderline starter, good back-up) and Rick Dipietro, who isn’t an NHL caliber goalie. No coincidence the Isles went into the toilet during that stretch. Since Montoya has been put back in the net, he is playing great and the team is winning games again. If Capuano starts anybody else in the net, except for giving El Cubano a rest every once in while, he should be fired immediately. Isles seem to play alot better with Montoya between the pipes. Perhaps having confidence that your goalie isn’t going to give up 40 foot wristers (thanks DP) and is going to make some big saves and keep you in the game goes a long way in winning hockey games.

    • bcisleman - Dec 7, 2011 at 1:45 PM

      Two things: Al has been hurt part of the time and Cappy has not necessarily been free to do as he has wished. Garth was likely pressuring him to showcase Nabby for a trade and Nabby has not been bad apart from the first Boston game. The team has just played badly in front of him. RDP is Wang’s buddy, so Cappy had to demonstrate that he was that bad. I thought he showed a lot of guts benching RDP for the Pittsburgh game. Expect Montoya to be the guy going forward barring injury.

      • davebrownspiral - Dec 7, 2011 at 3:06 PM

        True bc, but Montoya suffered his hamstring strain after sitting out for about 10 straight games following his 3-1 start. Nabakov has proven he can be an adequate starter/very good back-up when healthy. RDP is awful and should be banished to the minors. Besides, it’s more of a gutty decision to actually start RDP now, as the fans hate him and he inspries very little confidence in the net.

  3. hibackhand - Dec 7, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    nobody knows this…he’s not left handed..!

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