For the longest time, the New York Islanders had serious problems when it came to their goaltending.
Their respective netminders couldn’t stop a beach ball. They allowed a lot of goals, did not come up with the big saves when the team needed one, and more often than that, they were one of the main reasons why the team missed the playoffs so much.
Yes, I realize that the play in front of them was awful. With that said, every team needs good goaltending in order to have a fighting chance to make the playoffs.
For the first time in what seems like forever, the Islanders have been getting consistent goaltending. They have helped the team keep their goals against down, have made timely saves, and ultimately, have helped this club win a lot of hockey games this season.
Just listen to this. The team has allowed the least amount goals in the entire National Hockey League. The club has given up 164 goals in 70 games, which means that they have a collect 2.34 goals-against average.
Before we get into the club’s outstanding netminding, some credit needs to go to team head coach Barry Trotz. He has instilled a reliable and consistent defensive system that has clearly worked out in spades for this team.
With that said, a lot of the credit needs to be thrown at the club’s goaltenders. They are perhaps the main reason why that the team has the sixth best record in the NHL.
One of the goaltenders on this club has been on fire as of late. His strong play between the pipes has his team just two points behind the Washington Capitals for first in the Metropolitan Division.
This man is Thomas Greiss. Greiss has been outstanding this year and is in the middle of his most consistent season to date.
Greiss, 33, is currently 21-11-2 with a 2.22 goals-against average, a .928 save percentage, and five shutouts. This has been his best season by far and because of it, the Islanders have been a much better club overall.
In his last five games, Greiss is 4-1 and has allowed just eight goals. Two of his wins were shutouts and because of this recent run by the team, they are once again close to being at the top of their division.
Greiss has been great this season because he has kept his game simple. He does a great job of tracking pucks, he controls his rebounds, he makes the big save when his team needs one, and more importantly, he goes out and wins hockey games, which is the only thing that matters in the long run.
The team’s other goaltender, Robin Lehner, has also had an unbelievably strong season this year. Lehner, 27, is 20-11-5 with a 2.19 goals-against average, a .927 save percentage, and four shutouts.
He’s a big man who uses his size well to cut down the angles, makes big saves, and like Greiss, keeps his game simple. He’s always had a lot of potential and for the first time in his career, he has finally reached it.
It will be interesting to see how the team handles them come playoff time, but no matter what they do, they will have a guy that they can trust between the pipers, which is all that matters when it comes to the most important time in hockey.