Goaltending and the New York Islanders have not always meshed well.
Some seasons, the team would get excellent goaltending, but they could not put the puck in the net. Other seasons, they would be able to score a ton of goals, but could not keep it out of their net.
This has actually been a theme for the Islanders for the last several seasons. It was particularly noticeable last year as the team scored a lot of goals, but their defense and goaltending were awful.
This season, the Islanders are actually doing a much better job of keeping the puck out of their net. As of this writing (November 2), the team is tied for third in the league in goals allowed as they have given up 30 goals in 12 games.
The main reason that the team has had success keeping the puck out of their net this season, besides having new head coach Barry Trotz and stronger team defensive play, is Thomas Greiss.
Last season, Greiss was terrible. After being so good in both 2016-17 (26-18-5 with a 2.69 goals against average, a .913 save percentage and three shutouts) and 2015-16 (23-11-4 with a 2.36 goals against average, a .925 save percentage, and 1 shutout), Greiss struggled last season.
In 27 games last year, he was 13-8-2 with a 3.82 goals against average, a .892 save percentage, and one shutout. While the team’s defense was awful as a whole last season, Greiss was definitely not himself and struggled to establish himself as the team’s number one goaltender.
While he may not be the official main guy in net this year because the club now has Robin Lehner, Greiss has played like a starter this season. He has helped his team win hockey games, he has made the big saves when his team needs them the most, and he has cut down on the number of bad goals he allows.
As of this writing, Greiss is 3-2 with a 2.18 goals against average and a .934 save percentage. There have been a few performances that stand out.
The first one was the team’s first game of the season when they opened up against the Carolina Hurricanes. Greiss was masterful in that game as he made 45 saves in his team’s 2-1 overtime victory.
Twenty four days later, Greiss was at it again against the Hurricanes. This time, he made 38 saves and allowed just one goal in another victory by his club.
One last performance that stands out is his 31 save performance in his team’s 3-2 shootout victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on November 1 in front of the Barclays Center crowd. He flat out robbed Penguins’ franchise player Sidney Crosby on a breakaway with a great poke check and then shortly after, made a great glove save against Phil Kessel.
It is still very early in the season, but right now, Greiss is providing exactly the kind of goaltending this team needs to have all season long. Obviously, this kind of play is hard to understand, but if Greiss can come close to playing this way for most of the season, this team should be one of the team’s in the Eastern Conference competing for a playoff spot.
In the end, that is all that matters.