Fact: Mike Poulin played one of the two best seasons of his career in 2018-19, and if he didn’t go down injured against the Calgary Roughnecks, the 14-year netminder would have been in the conversation for NLL Goaltender of the Year and potentially named to the NLL All-Pro Second Team.
That may seem like a bold statement and isn’t meant to take anything away from the other goaltenders who were up for Goaltender of the Year this season: they played phenomenal ball. But Poulin’s 2018-19 numbers lined up pretty well with when he won the award in 2012. Take a guess which of the below lines was his 2018-19 season and which was his 2012 season:
Got your answer ready?
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
The first one is when he won his only NLL Goaltender of the Year award, second was the most recent season. Poulin played more as a 33-year-old than as a 26-year-old, and that’s arguably one of the most important aspects of a goaltender’s game.
More minutes means more opportunities to slip up and get burned by an opposing team’s offense. Poulin keeping his GAA below 11 and his SV% as high as he did meant he remained effective for most of the season, something that holds up when his game-by-game numbers are examined.
Poulin was subbed out only twice during the season, and once was because the Swarm had a comfortable lead against San Diego and Kevin Orleman needed to get some more experience.
Not counting him leaving against Calgary, Poulin didn’t play a full game against the Buffalo Bandits in February. It marks the first time since signing with the Swarm that Poulin was only pulled once in a season, having been subbed out twice in the 2017 and 2017-18 seasons.
In addition to his strong goaltending, Poulin etched his name deeper into the NLL record books.
He finished the 2018-19 season with 621 regular season saves, bringing his career total to 5236. After his 899:32 min. in front of the net, his career total became 8208:50. Those totals place him in sole possession of seventh most saves and minutes played in NLL history.
Like a fine scotch, Poulin is just getting better with age, but unlike an older scotch, his abilities aren’t evaporating into the angel’s share.
Photo Credit: Kyle Hess
Three! More! Years!
Giving most fans a serious case of déjà vu, Poulin once again signed a three-year deal with the Swarm on the first day of free agency.
While we won’t know how the Kitchener, Ontario goalie will perform over the next three years of his career, this feels like a good time to look back at his first trio of seasons in blue and yellow and notice his improvement.
Winning a world championship in his first season started his three-year contract on a high note, and while Poulin and the Swarm were unfortunately unable to replicate that postseason success, Poulin continued to improve his play.
His GAA has dropped each season. Poulin’s 2017-18 SV% dropped compared to his 2017 numbers, but he also played significantly more in his second season in blue and yellow. That percentage jumped up in 2018-19, bolstered by the Swarm defense doing a great job at limiting shots against.
It’s hard to want much more from your goaltender. Winning a world championship and posting a 34-13 record when he’s in between the pipes, there’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t want what Poulin provides as a premier NLL netminder.
Let’s hope that Poulin déjà vu continues across the next three seasons.
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