Goaltending in the sport of hockey is perfectly articulated by legendary goalie Jacques Plante when he stated, “Goaltending is a normal job, sure. How would you like it in your job if every time you made a small mistake, a red light went on over your desk and 15,000 people stood up and yelled at you.” Team Europe is hoping that red light doesn’t come on too often for the upcoming WCH.
With the excitement building for the upcoming WCH, Team Europe continues to prepare for what many predict to be three games and done. Frederik Andersen’s injury and shaky play by Thomas Greiss in his first bit of action will make Jaroslav Halak the undisputed number one goaltender for the Europeans. What follows is a breakdown of Team Europe’s men in the crease.
As always, full-time WCH coverage can be found on THW’s main page.
For a more in-depth look at Team Europe, check out my breakdowns of their forwards and defensemen.
Starter: Jaroslav Halak
Remember when Montreal had to choose between Halak and Carey Price for their goalie of the future? While Halak certainly has been a great goalie, it’s fair to say Montreal is happy with their choice. Unfortunately for Halak, the main image is probably what he will be feeling after facing the likes of the Canadiens and Americans. Facing uncertainty on his NHL club, Halak is looking to show the New York Islanders and other GMs around the league he is still a starting goaltender in this league. He will need to make plenty more saves like this to keep Team Europe in their games:
If not for a groin injury suffered in March, Halak would be heading into training camp with the Islanders as the clear-cut number one. Halak has been a part of a William M. Jennings Trophy tandem and set the club record for most regular season wins (38) during the 2014-15 season. And who could forget his incredible performance during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs? Excuse the poor quality and put your computer on mute before watching:
For this tournament at least, Halak takes the reigns as the man in the crease to prove he still can tend in this league.
Back-Up: Thomas Greiss
In a comedic twist of fate, Halak and Greiss pair up once again, this time on the international stage. While Halak looks to have the crease for this tournament, Greiss may just have the upper hand in New York with saves like these:
Team Europe can only hope Greiss will prevent pucks from going in behind him, not trying to score them on himself:
Thomas Greiss scored a goal! Sadly, it was for the wrong team https://t.co/fi2qDMVcr5 https://t.co/X121450xgE
— SB Nation NHL (@SBNationNHL) December 1, 2015
All kidding aside, Greiss has been a good back-up goalie in the NHL for the Islanders, Sharks, Penguins, and Coyotes. After getting the nod after Halak’s injury the second half of this past season, Greiss is most likely going to be returning to his backup role for this tournament. However, with his team-friendly cap hit and leading the Islanders to the second round, he will find himself back in his starter’s role to start the 2016-17 NHL season.
Third String: Philipp Grubauer
After being selected by the Washington Capitals in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Grubauer has mostly played in the AHL for the Hershey Bears. He certainly has made the most of his time with the parent club, though:
He has also been impressive overseas, helping the German national team qualify for the 2018 Olympic games. Grubauer has also won a Memorial Cup with the Windsor Spitfires in 2010 and became the first German-born goaltender to start and win a Stanley Cup playoff game. Although not expected to see much playing time in the tournament as a last-minute recall, Grubauer is building up an impressive resume for the future.
The most important position on the ice is in good hands for the Europeans if Halak proves he is fully recovered from a knee injury. As with every other position, goaltending depth is good, but not spectacular in comparing Europe’s group with the likes of Canada and the USA. Luckily for fans, all you need is your goalie to be better than the other one on any given night.