Will the Isles Survive Without Halak?

Will the Isles survive without Halak? That is the question. This week, the New York Islanders had a very big win at the Barclays Center over the Pittsburgh Penguins, a 2-1 contest. However, the win came with a heavy cost and that was losing Jaroslav Halak for at least six weeks due to a groin injury. Will the Islanders be okay between the pipes?


Thomas Greiss now becomes New York’s number one goalie. Keep in mind, all year Greiss hasn’t been the backup goalie for the Islanders, rather he has been their 1A net-minder. This year, Greiss has played in 30 games (27 starts), has a record of 18-6-4 with a 2.23 goals against average and a .929 save percentage. In terms of ranking his stats among other NHL goaltenders with at least 25 starts, Greiss is 9th in GAA and second in save percentage.

The big question regarding Greiss is can he handle becoming the number one goalie for a contending team? Greiss has had a terrific season and general manager Garth Snow has to be thrilled on the return he has received from his backup goalie. Snow signed Greiss last summer in free agency to a two year, $3 million dollar contract. How shrewd does that move look now? Now, Greiss knows the team is counting on him tremendously with Halak injured. How will Greiss handle the pressure and expectations?

YouTube player

The New Number Two

Right before the start of the season Halak was dealing with an injury and was going to miss the first week or so of the regular season. When J.F. Berube was placed on waivers by the LA Kings the Islanders pounced. Berube was an important part of the Manchester Monarchs last year who won the AHL championship. The 24-year old goaltender  will now be given the chance to show he belongs in the NHL. New York recognizes Berube’s value. So much so that the Islanders have been carrying three goalies all year. New York knows if they try to send Berube down to their AHL affiliate the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, he will never clear waivers.

Berube will now get his chance to prove to himself, the Islanders and the entire NHL that he belongs in the league. The Islanders need Berube to be a solid backup as they cannot run Greiss into the ground as they head into the playoffs.

Capuano’s Goalie Rotation

New York Islanders head coach Jack Capuano knows he has to keep Greiss strong and fresh down the stretch both mentally and physically, as the team heads into the playoffs. Based on the timeline of Halak’s injury, even in the best case scenario, Greiss will be the Islanders starting goalie for the first round of the playoffs.

In terms of the rotation moving forward, Capuano will need Berube to contribute. Starting tomorrow, Saturday March 12th, the Islanders play nine games over the next fifteen days. Capuano has already shown faith in Berube this season. New York’s first game after the All-Star break Capuano started Berube versus the Minnesota Wild in Brooklyn. Berube rewarded the coach with a solid performance (40 saves) that resulted in a 5-3 victory for the Islanders. Berube just needs to show that his start versus the Wild is what the Islanders can expect from him down the stretch.

To answer the question given the depth of this New York Islanders team I expect this squad to continue their recent strong play. Thomas Greiss and J.F. Berube will hold up their end of the bargain.

Follow me on Twitter @TheNLKing

(Photo courtesy of Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Can’t get enough hockey? Want to talk about it with our writers, and fellow fans? Join The Hockey Writers Group on Facebook today for the best hockey conversations on the web!