Thomas Greiss was the back-up goalie that every team would have wanted in the 2016 NHL Playoffs. After starting goaltender, Jaroslav Halák, was injured right before the playoffs, Greiss stepped in to take over the crease, and brought the Islanders to the second round of the playoffs, after losing to the Washington Capitals in the first round the previous year.
Greiss hasn’t remained in one location very long during his career. After being drafted by the San Jose Sharks, he ended up with several other teams: the Worcester Sharks, Brynäs IF (Sweden), the Hannover Scorpions (Germany), the Phoenix Coyotes, and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
However, Greiss has found his home with the Islanders. Before the 2015-2016 season, he signed a two-year contract with the Islanders, which was a great grab – even if he just remained the back-up behind Halák.
But with the previously stated injury, Halák was diagnosed with a lower-body injury in early March, and was out for at least six weeks. Greiss stepped in, and was able to lead the Islanders to an impressive end of the regular season. With saves like these, it’s no wonder why he was able to lead the Islanders to a good end of the year, plus a good start to this season.
This season, Greiss only has 17 games played (9-5-0-2), but that was partially due to the fact that he was the back-up goaltender. With the new title of “Starter,” he should have plenty more starts, and should be able to lead the Islanders to a successful second half of the season.
A Strong Goalie Needs Strong Defense
Greiss also should have some help, when he is trapped in his zone with an opponent bombarding him – a key to any successful goaltender and defense. With names such as Johnny Boychuck, Travis Hamonic, and Nick Leddy, there should be a strong presence in the defensive zone.
Leddy is leading the defensemen with a total of 16 points (5 G, 11 A), with Boychuck closely behind him at 14 points (5 G, 9 A). Having a strong core of producing defensemen can help a team tremendously, especially when the leading scorer, John Tavares, only has 27 points (11 G, 16 A).
Boychuck did have some minor health issues throughout the season, including some soreness in his thumb, during November, and had flu-like problems in early December. That doesn’t seem to effect much, minus his sub-twenty minute ice time average. This season, he is averaging 19:48 per game.
Where They End Up
The Islanders aren’t anywhere close to the position they were last year. Holding strong last place, not only in the Metropolitan Division, but the Eastern Conference, they have some ground to make up, if they even want a chance to touch the Cup.
With the naming of Greiss as their starter, and hopefully a strong production from the offense and defense, the end of the season could get them to at least the middle of the Eastern Conference, if they don’t have a chance to make a run for the Stanley Cup.