Islanders avoiding goalie controversy despite Greiss surge

Islanders avoiding goalie controversy despite Greiss surge

BROOKLYN, NY – New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano can’t explain it, but it’s something he has seen before. Granted, it was in another sport.

“That’s just one of those things. Some pitchers get run support. Some don’t. It just happens at different times, different years,” he said of the Islanders goalies.

Over his last eight starts, goalie Thomas Greiss has gotten incredible goal support: 4.75 goals per game, including 22 goals in his last four starts alone. He won seven of those eight starts.

Jaroslav Halak, his friend and incumbent goalie for the Islanders, has received 3.38 goals per game over his last 13 starts. In his last five starts, the Islanders have scored 10 goals with him on the ice. He lost four of them.

“Fortunately for Thomas, we’re scoring. Unfortunately for Jaro … you know, he plays well for us,” said Capuano.

Greiss leads the Islanders with a .930 save percentage and a 2.21 GAA; Halak is at 2.42 GAA and a .914 save percentage. Halak has started 30 games, while Greiss has started 22.

Greiss entered camp as the clear backup for Halak. Forward Ryan Strome – who had a goal and an assist in the Islanders’ 4-1 Monday afternoon win over the Detroit Red Wings, where Greiss made 28 saves – recalls being impressed with the German-born goalie despite being unfamiliar with his previous work on the San Jose Shark, Arizona Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins. He was laid back, even-keeled and better than the players expected.

“Both goalies have been unbelievable. Jaro plays a lot of games. Greisser came in huge today,” said Strome.

Greiss has always been this guy: a backup goalie that can push your starter to the brink, convince a good number of people that he might be worthy of more work and then just fall short of the consistency required to win a starting job.

What makes this run with the Islanders interesting, however, is how much better their offense seems to play in front of him.

Does Capuano believe in playing the hot hand?

“Yes and no,” he said, before explaining that the Islanders coaching staff pays close attention to how a goalie has fared against a certain team, rather than in recent games in general.

Does Capuano believe there’s a chance Greiss could topple Halak as the team’s starter?

“No,” he replied, before quickly adding that both will get their looks.

“With the amount of games we have coming up, [all of our goalies] are going to get a real opportunity here to play a lot of hockey."

Greiss is making the case that he deserves that opportunity.

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Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.