The Islanders will play seven back-to-back games over the remaining 34 on their regular-season schedule, so carrying three goalies could quickly deteriorate from luxury to necessity.
With that in mind, coach Jack Capuano stressed that 24-year-old Jean-Francois Berube — better known as J-F — is to be viewed in the same company as Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss, the pair that carried the Islanders through the first half. The 24-year-old Berube, who thought he had a spot with the Kings but wound up on waivers and was claimed by the Islanders in October, piled up a ton of equity with Capuano even before gaining his first NHL victory by stopping 40 shots in Tuesday’s 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
Capuano liked Berube’s work during a conditioning stint at Bridgeport — a 4-0 record, 0.97 goals against average — and did not hesitate starting him when the season resumed after All-Star Weekend.
“I thought it was fantastic,’’ Capuano said of Berube’s 40-save performance against the Wild. “I think everybody’s got to realize he is part of our team. We have have three goalies . . . It’s not like he’s an extra goalie. He’s one of the three.’’
The Islanders might want to see what they could get for Berube before the Feb. 29 trade deadline, but it might be worth their while to keep him. Halak has been limited to 26 starts because of injury.
“I’ll just fill in whenever they need me or if for some reason someone gets hurt which I hope not,’’ Berube said Wednesday after a one-hour practice at IceWorks. “It’s my job to go in and make sure I’m sharp and ready to go. Now all the games are important for the playoffs. We know how tight the standings are.’’
Berube said he has not considered being traded. “I’m not really thinking about that right now,’’ he said. “I’m here, obviously. It’s a tough role to be the third guy or third goalie. Right now, I’m just working hard, making sure I’m ready if I need to play. I’m not looking too far ahead. No major expectations. It’s my first year in the NHL, so I’ll try to learn as much as I can from the guys that are here.’’
Notes & quotes: The Islanders play the Metro Division-leading Capitals at Washington on Thursday for the second time this season after losing 4-1 at home last month. “We know they’re the best team in the league for a reason,’’ Kyle Okposo said. “We know at some point we’re probably going to have to go through them. We’d just like to go out there and and have a much better effort than we did last time.’’