as the starting goaltender on Opening Night, Head Coach Jack Capuano explained that the Islanders coaching staff decided to “go with their gut.”
For Montoya, it was a welcome surprise.
“I had no idea (I’d get the start),” Montoya said. “I saw the lineup just like everybody else did. I finished the year off strong last year and wanted to just keep that rolling. I came in to camp with the right mindset and I got the nod from the coaches.”
|Al Montoya salutes the crowd after being named the star of the game in the defeat of the Minnesota Wild on October 10, 2011. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images) |
That night, the Islanders lost 2-0 to the Florida Panthers, but Montoya made 27 saves.
Rather than making any drastic changes to the lineup, the coaching staff chose to throw out the game tape from opening night and give the same lineup a second chance. With that decision, Montoya got his second start.
Monday afternoon, the Islanders took a two-goal lead in the first period and despite seven Minnesota Wild power plays, including two 5-on-3 opportunities, Montoya stood tall. He only let up one goal, despite the team being outshot 18-5 in the final 40 minutes.
Whether or not Capuano continues to roll with the hot hand, Montoya will be prepared to play.
“You are always ready, you have to be ready, you never know when your chance is going to come,” Montoya said. “For me, that’s how I prepare. I prepare to be ready to play every single night.”
Ever since training camp, the coaching staff has indicated that each night’s start would go to the netminder who deserved to play and they would ride him until one of the team’s other choices played better.
In the first two games of the 2011-12 season, Montoya has given up three goals on 50 shots (.940 SV% and 1.53 GAA). The Islanders have only put 41 shots (27 and 14 respectively) on the oppositions’ goaltenders, leaving it up to the 26-year-old goaltender to shoulder the load.
“This is great,” Montoya said. “It’s everything I’ve trained for, for however many years it’s been. I worked hard this summer to be in this position and yeah, I’m having fun. I’m going to ride it out as long as I can.”