Rookies Wishart, Poulin embrace opportunity
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The Islanders' forest - wilderness? - aside, consider a couple of the younger trees, individual working parts Ty Wishart and Kevin Poulin.
Wishart is the 22-year-old defenseman obtained from Tampa Bay for 41-year-old goalie Dwayne Roloson on New Year's Day. He played his first game as an Islander on Saturday night and assisted on two goals in a 5-3 victory over Ottawa.
Poulin, at 20 and with exactly 10 NHL games under his belt, is the most experienced goalie available for the Islanders' immediate future. By saving all 20 shots he faced in the second and third periods Saturday, Poulin improved his record to 4-2-1 with an impressive 2.44 goals-against average.
There is no disputing that the Islanders would prefer a situation better than their 17-28-7 record going into tonight's home game against Toronto. But Wishart and Poulin are perfectly happy to be where they are.
"Initially, it was a shock to be traded," said Wishart, a former first-round pick of San Jose who had been playing for Tampa Bay's minor-league affiliate in Norfolk. "I had no idea I was getting traded. But I kind of said goodbye to the guys [in Tampa, where he played five NHL games two seasons ago], settled into my hotel that night and said, 'Wow, this is a great opportunity.' I just want to take advantage of the situation."
The same goes for Poulin, who had been ticketed for a year of seasoning with the Islanders' Bridgeport farm team but has been thrown into the big-league fray because of the team's volatile goaltending situation. With Roloson traded, Bridgeport call-up Nathan Lawson still rehabbing a knee injury, Rick DiPietro shelved again (this time because of a facial fracture) and Evgeni Nabokov refusing to report after being claimed on waivers, Poulin currently is the No. 1 goalie. (Mikko Koskinen, a 22-year-old Finn, was called up from Bridgeport on Saturday to back up Poulin.)
"There's nothing bad about it," Poulin said of suddenly having his feet held to the big-league fire. "It's great. I'm seeing a lot of shots, a lot of games. Just practicing with those guys, better shooters, quicker, faster, I think it's a good thing."
There always is the question of too much too soon for young players, but Islanders coach Jack Capuano said: "I don't worry about that too much. For me, Kevin's a confident kid. All these guys are. They feel they can play here and they want the opportunity."
Notes & quotes: Forward Blake Comeau still is being evaluated because of a concussion and Lawson has not resumed practicing with the team . . . The Islanders confirmed they plan to hold training camp on Long Island again next season.