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Fantasy Spin: Potential fallout from Nabokov injury

by Eric Lipschutz

New York Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov was forced to leave Thursday night's game against the Montreal Canadiens in the first period with a groin injury.  Nabokov did not return and will be revaluated on Friday.  Rick DiPietro replaced Nabokov and played well, making 24 saves on 27 shots for his second win of the season.

It had appeared that Nabokov had established himself as the primary starter in what has been a crowded Islander net all season long.  Nabokov, DiPietro and Al Montoya are all currently up with the club.  Despite his starting status, Nabokov's numbers have not been very impressive.  Thanks in part to a weak Isles offense, Nabokov had only recorded one win in his seven starts leading  into Thursday night's tilt.   In those starts Nabokov has posted a mediocre 2.89 GAA and .910 save percentage 

Groin injuries can be tricky, especially for goalies.  If Nabokov is forced to miss an extended amount of action, DiPietro and Montoya would see increased time in net.  As of late, DiPietro has primarily filled the role of Nabokov's backup so logic would dictate he would get the first opportunity to claim the starting gig for however long Nabokov is sidelined.  Obviously, DiPietro has had his own difficulties staying on the ice while battling a variety of injuries throughout his career, making him anything but a reliable replacement.

Meanwhile, Montoya is a journeyman who did a nice job for the Islanders last season after coming over from Phoenix in a February trade.  In fact, Montoya served as the Islanders opening night goalie this season and stated the first three games of the year for the Isles.  If given the opportunity, Montoya has proved that in spurts he can be a serviceable goalie. 

It is still way too soon to know the extent of Nabokov's injury so his owners should keep a close eye on any news coming out of the Islanders camp on Friday.  In deeper leagues with limited goalie options, it might be wise to be proactive and go out and grab DiPietro for insurance, especially if you have the roster flexibility to do so. 

Be sure to keep Montoya in the back of your mind as well since there is potential for him to see time in net as the situation develops.  Unfortunately, no matter which goalie emerges as the No. 1, it is unlikely that they will be able to offer fantasy GMs the production they are looking for.  Any of the three Islanders goalies should be used with caution going forward.
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