Yashin and Dunham Gets Isles Moving In the Right Direction|
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Friday, October 20, 2006
Despite having their number one goalie nurse a groin injury all week, the New York Islanders, powered by the solid performances of Alexei Yashin and recently acquired backup goaltender Mike Dunham, managed to gain points in all three games played this past week and haven’t lost a contest in regulation since October 10 against the Los Angeles Kings.
It seems that Yashin has finally found two players in Viktor Kozlov and Jason Blake that he can consistently play well with every night, after five years of the organization vehemently looking for suitable players to flank him. While the line has been playing solid hockey so far this season, it may be too early to tell how long they’ll stay together.
Islander fans may remember Steve Stirling’s penchant for shuffling lines last season and if Yashin manages to tail off, Ted Nolan may move Blake back to the line he was on with Richard Park and Shawn Bates earlier in the season and see Kozlov and Miroslav Satan play with Yashin. Nevertheless for the time being, Yashin has seven points in seven games despite a repugnant 7.89 shooting percentage, telling us that he’s taking a lot of shots and despite not scoring as often as he’s capable of, is still managing to be a consistent force on the ice.
While fans may have to look a little closer at Yashin’s stats to interpret his dominance this season, anyone that has seen Mike Dunham in net for the Isles has been pleasantly surprised. Signed a week before the season began after trying out for the team during training camp, Dunham has proved during the past two weeks that he can still be a starting goaltender in the NHL.
Going 2-0-0-2 in five games played on the Island, Dunham has practically stood on his helmet [Which is still painted in Atlanta Thrashers colors], while the Islanders have began to form their identity. Having a sparkling 2.20 GAA with an amazing .939 save percentage so far this season, Dunham is making his case to get much more playing down the stretch for the Islanders, regardless of if Rick Dipietro is healthy or not.
With Yashin leading the way on offense and Dunham playing solid in net, the Islanders can compete with any team in NHL, but it’s all a matter of consistency. If Yashin begins to get lazy and loose his focus, something which he has done every season he’s been with the team, things will be much tougher for Dipietro and Dunham down the stretch, stifling any opportunity the Islanders have in making the playoffs.