With goalie issues surfacing, Islanders playoff prospects in the air

Hot and not

RinnePekka Rinne, Nashville Predators
Rinne bounced back from a tough stretch, making 23 saves en route to a 2-0 shutout against the Bruins on Thursday.

MrazekPetr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings
Mrazek allowed five goals on 32 shots before being pulled in the third period of a 6-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has now allowed 11 goals in his past two outings.

Are the New York Islanders in trouble?

Scott Burnside@ESPN_Burnside: So, do we have the makings of a goaltending controversy brewing in Brooklyn? Hard to argue with Islanders coach Jack Capuano's decision to go with Thomas Greiss in Thursday's big divisional clash with the first-place Washington Capitals. Greiss has played well of late, and did so again Thursday as the Isles came back to earn a loser's point in a 3-2 overtime loss. Greiss is now 7-1-1 in his past nine decisions. Starter Jaroslav Halak has made it easy for the team to turn to Greiss, losing four of five and giving up 18 goals in that five-game span. Now, we're a long way from having to name a playoff starter -- assuming the Isles make the playoffs, which they should -- but if the playoffs started today the No. 1 storyline at the Barclays Center would be goaltending. So, how do you think this plays out as we head down the stretch? Any other goaltending brouhahas out there worth noting?

Pierre LeBrun@Real_ESPNLeBrun: Scotty, this is why I think the Isles are in trouble when it comes to making a deep playoff run or not. I just don't think they have the necessary goaltending. I'm a huge John Tavares fan, and I think the Isles' captain is surrounded by a deep forward group. Their blue line certainly works for me, but if you ask me to pick a winner between Greiss/Halak and the likes of Henrik Lundqvist, Braden Holtby or Marc-Andre Fleury in a potential playoff series I just don't like the Isles' chances.

Craig Custance@CraigCustance: That's definitely a fair criticism of the Islanders, Pierre. There's a sense from other general managers that the Islanders may be one of the more aggressive teams at the trade deadline, simply because it's time for that team to take a step forward and there's some uncertainty beyond this season with key players like Kyle Okposo (all but gone after the season) and Travis Hamonic (patiently waiting on his trade request). The Islanders may look a little different next season, so the theory is that GM Garth Snow will be aggressive in giving this group a chance to win. It may be moot if there's an issue in goal, though. The Blackhawks survived last's season's first-round goaltending issues, but they are the exception in that case. People like to point to the 2010 Flyers as an example of a team that made it with issues in goal, but there are a million other examples where goaltending sunk a team's hopes. I like that Islanders team, but I like them better if Halak is the starting goalie and playing well.

Joe McDonald@ESPNJoeyMac: Not that there is a goalie controversy in Nashville, but it was good to see Pekka Rinne return to the lineup and post a shutout victory against the Bruins. He made 29 saves to earn his third shutout of the season. It also helped that the Predators blocked 20 shots in front of him. Prior to the victory, Rinne hadn't played the two previous games and backup Carter Hutton had stepped in. It's been a frustrating season for Rinne, who is now 21-18-8 with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage. As far as the Islanders, like any coach, Capuano will go with the hot hand and Greiss has been that guy in Brooklyn. It also creates some internal competition that bodes well for the Islanders down the stretch as they attempt to earn a postseason berth.

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