For the first time in two years, the New York Islanders have only two goaltenders to worry about going into this season. Islanders General Manager Garth Snow assured of this when he made a “handshake deal” with the Vegas Golden Knights to select a struggling JF Berube in the expansion draft. So now it is down to two, which begs the question: Who will be the Islanders starting goaltender this season?
Thomas Greiss received most of the playing time in the Islander’s net last season, appearing in a career-high 51 games. He also posted a career-high 26 wins. Head coach Doug Weight was forced to give the German netminder an increased amount of playing time with Jaroslav Halak in Bridgeport. However, it was clear towards the final month of the season that Greiss was running out of gas. In Greiss’ last 15 games of last season, he allowed 41 goals, including three goals in just 8:06 on March 30th against the Philadelphia Flyers. Even though Greiss was outstanding through the first 4 months of the season, Greiss was unable to perform down the stretch because he was being over-used due to a struggling backup and no Jaroslav Halak to help.
As all Islanders fans know, Jaroslav Halak did not have a good start to his season. Through his first 18 decisions this season, Halak had an abysmal 6-8-4 record with a GAA of 3.05. Those horrific stats got him sent down to Bridgeport to play with the Sound Tigers. It was with Bridgeport where he once again found his rhythm, winning 16 games. He earned his recall on March 23rd, and returned to his all-star form from 2015. He started six of the Islanders last eight games, appearing in seven. In those seven contests, the Slovakian netminder posted a 6-1-0 record including one shutout, and was one of the only reason why the Islanders were still in playoff contention going into last season’s final weekend. As shown by his play at the end of last season, and his play earlier in his career, Halak know what it takes to carry a team.
Last season, Islander fans saw that both Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak can carry the team, but did not know who would be the starting netminder. It seems like it will come down to who performs the best in the preseason and in training camp. If Doug Weight can’t make up his mind, he should test his two goaltenders. The Pittsburgh Penguins tested Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury last season by having the two split ten games between each other. Murray prevailed and the Penguins won another Stanley Cup. Not to say the Islanders will win the Stanley Cup by having their goaltenders split ten games, but splitting the first ten games between Halak and Greiss is a strategy that Doug Weight should like to exercise.
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