Thomas Greiss is calm, cool, collected and believes in his abilities.
He’s not the only one.
Greiss’ strong play in net this season has given the Islanders confidence in him as he assumes the starting goalie duties in lieu of a lower-body injury to Jaroslav Halak that will sideline him for the next six-to-eight weeks.
“Greiss is a very confident goaltender in net and we have a lot of confidence in him,” Matt Martin said. “He’s been outstanding all season for us. We know we’re solid in net and we just have to play well in front of him. There are absolutely no issues with Greiss carrying the load.”
Greiss is having a career year, posting an 18-6-4 record with a 2.23 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage – which ranks second in the NHL.
The Islanders admittedly didn’t know a lot about Greiss prior to signing a two-year contract over the summer. He had only played parts of four games against the Islanders, sporting a 1-1-0 record. It didn’t take long for him to win over his team with his intense work ethic and laid back attitude.
“I just realized how good he was when we got him here and started skating in training camp,” John Tavares said. “He’s so big, but so quick at the same time. He’s a big dude and to have that ability to be quick and have that elastic-type movement, it just seems like he’s never out of it. He can play deep in his net, he can challenge and he’s great at the second-and third opportunities.”
The 30-year-old has already surpassed his previous highs in wins (10) and games played (25), playing his 30th contest in Toronto. The Islanders have 18 games remaining this season, with four back-to-back sets, but Capuano expects to see the same battle level from his German goalie.
“This is new territory for Thomas,” Jack Capuano said. “For me it’s his work ethic and battle level. For a goalie, [battle level] goes unrecognized for a lot of people, they think goalies are in there just making saves, but they have to battle for every inch of their ice. Guys go to the paint. He’s not afraid to get his skates outside the paint, challenge shooters and fight for his positioning.”
BERUBE TO SEE MORE ACTION
With Halak out and Greiss assuming the starting role, Jean-Francois Berube is also expected to see some action down the stretch.
Berube is 1-1-0 this season, making 40 saves for his first career win on Feb. 2 against the Minnesota Wild. He’s seen limited action, but has proven himself in the American Hockey League, going 37-9-4 with the Manchester Monarchs last season, ultimately winning a Calder Cup, the AHL championship.
Jack Capuano partly bases his goaltending decisions on past performance, so it’ll be trickier to decide when to put Berube in, given his limited experience. The Islanders have four back-to-back sets remaining this season, so if Capuano continues to split those starts, Berube should play at least four games.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Capuano said. “Honestly, right now I’m concentrating on one game at a time. There’s no question he’s a proven goalie in the American League and he’s played some good games with us. I have confidence that when I put him in there he’s going to do the job.”