Sunday was a light day in the NHL, but that doesn’t mean the men in net didn’t shine. Thomas Greiss put on one of the best performances of the season. And elsewhere in the hockey world, there was a show of respect worthy of a game-saving performance.
Greiss Sparkles in Debut
The New York Islanders tandem of Greiss and Robin Lehner won the Jennings Trophy last season. But when Lehner departed for the Chicago Blackhawks and Semyon Varlamov arrived from the Colorado Avalanche, no one knew what to expect in net for the Islanders going forward.
Early returns suggest that Barry Trotz’s squad will be just fine going forward. Though they lost their first game, Varlamov stopped 26 of 28 shots in a strong performance. Then on Sunday, Greiss stepped into the crease.
Picking up where he left off from 2018-19, when he went 23-14-2, Greiss put together a terrific performance. He stopped all but one of the Winnipeg Jets’ 36 shots, including 12 in the third period, helping his team to a 4-1 victory.
The Islanders have a long road ahead to prove that their 103 point finish last season wasn’t an anomaly. But if the first starts for Varlamov and Greiss are anything to judge by, they may well get back there or farther.
A Goalie’s Proper Respect
Often, goalies bear the brunt of the blame for a loss that wasn’t their fault. But smart players know that sometimes, even in a big win, it was really the netminder who was the star of the game. Enter San Antonio Rampage forward Klim Kostin, and his postgame celebration with goaltender Ville Husso.
The Russian Kostin and the Finnish Hussos are two of the top prospect in the St. Louis Blues organization, and Kostin clearly wanted to acknowledge his goalie’s strong performance in the team’s 5-2 defeat of the Tucson Roadrunners. Husso stopped 31 of the Roadrunner’s 33 shots in his second game of the season, following a strong 22 of 23 showing in the team’s opener against the Manitoba Moose.
Husso had a disastrous 2018-19 season and slid significantly among Blues prospects as a result. A strong 2019-20 campaign from Husso would be huge for the Blues, as it might allow them to get out from under Jake Allen’s contract in its final year. Whether they make that move or not, Husso was always meant to be a big part of the Blues’ future before his struggles and Jordan Binnington’s rise. A strong season from him would be terrific for the organization as a whole.
“It Was Broken, Right?”
To say relations between the San Jose Sharks and the Vegas Golden Knights are tense right now would be an understatement. So their game on Friday night was in desperate need of a little levity, particularly after the brawl that occurred late in the third period. Fortunately, Marc-Andre Fleury stepped up to the plate and delivered.
Fleury picked up one of the Sharks’ players’ discarded sticks and sneakily handed it through the camera well to a fan. When asked why after the game, the veteran told Jesse Granger of the Athletic: “it was broken, right? We’ll just say it was broken.”
We don’t know if we buy that excuse, but we’re glad for the laughs. You have to watch those guys in the crease from time-to-time. You can never know what’s going on behind those formidable masks.
Stephen Ground is an author with The Hockey Writers and is co-host of the Two Guys No Cup Podcast. He enjoys studying the numbers and providing fresh looks at various stories.