Thomas Greiss was the Islanders first-half MVP. Now they’ll need him to be their second-half one as well.
Jaroslav Halak left Tuesday’s win against the Pittsburgh Penguins late in the third period with a groin injury. Head coach Jack Capuano announced that Halak will miss a minimum of six weeks. Halak earned his 200th career win the hard way and will have to wait awhile for win number 201. He is 18-13-14 with a .919 save percentage.
The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in five weeks. The Islanders are on a collision course to face their rivals, the New York Rangers, in the first round. It would be the first time in 22 years that the two teams faced off in the playoffs. The Islanders will begin the quest for the Cup with a goaltender who has never started a playoff game. Greiss was with the San Jose Sharks and replaced former Evgeni Nabokov in his lone playoff appearance back in 2010.
Greiss is already in uncharted waters. Wednesday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs was his 30th game of the season, easily besting his career high of 25 set as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes back in 2013-14. The 30-year-old netminder is having a career season with the Islanders.
Greiss is 18-6-3 and is 7-0-1 in his last eight starts. He leads the NHL with a .930 save percentage and is among the league-leaders with a 2.20 goals against average. So far, the work load has not been an issue. This is Halak’s third stint on injured reserve. Greiss started three of the first four games this season with Halak out.
General manager Garth Snow now looks like a genius with his two goaltender moves. First signing Greiss to a two-year deal back on July 1st and claiming Jean-Francois Berube off waivers from the Los Angeles Kings prior to the start of the season. Snow needed insurance for Halak.
Keeping Berube turned out to be the right move. Snow knew that he would lose Berube if he tried passing him through waivers in order to send him to Bridgeport. Berube has played three games this season and started two. He will get some time down the stretch. New York has four back-to-back games, two this month and two in April. Capuano is confident is his two goaltenders.
“It’s a big loss for our team. But we’ve got guys who can step up and can hopefully do the job.”
Greiss has never been a number one goaltender in his seven-year NHL career. He hasn’t had a chance to be one. The Islanders are his fourth team in four years. The team now needs the journeyman, who has only 41 minutes of postseason experience, to be their number one and help the Isles advance to the second round for the first time sine 1993.
Photo courtesy of Amy Irvin (The Hockey Writers)