Lehner and Greiss Leading NHL Goalies
Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss are first and second in both GAA and SV% this seasonby Cory Wright WrightsWay / NewYorkIslanders.com
Thomas Greiss' 31-save shutout propelled him to the top of the NHL's save percentage leaderboard on Thursday night.
Who'd he pass along the way? How about the guy who sits to his right in the locker room - Robin Lehner.
Together, Greiss and Lehner are achieving something remarkable in 2019, as the two Isles goalies rank first and second in the NHL in both GAA and SV%.
Here's how it breaks down. Lehner leads the NHL with a 2.08 GAA, while Greiss leads the league with a .930 SV%. Greiss' 2.20 GAA is second, while Lehner is second with a .929 SV%.
"We don't win 10 of our last 13 or whatever without good goaltending, both are good and we've been keeping them fresh," Head Coach Barry Trotz said. "Both have responded so there's no reason to just ride one when you can probably ride both of them for a bit here."
Video: Greiss earns Thursday's Pepsi Zero Sugar Shutout
Greiss is on a serious heater, going 5-0-1 in his last six starts, stopping 185-of-188 shots in the process while Lehner has been one of the top goalies of the past two months, going 13-3-1 in his last 17 games with a 1.62 GAA and a .943 SV% over that span.
Even with gaudy numbers, the two goalies are quick to pass along the praise, citing the Isles stingy team structure.
"The boys make me look good out there," Greiss said. "Everybody is battling hard, there are a lot of blocked shots. No rebounds. It helps me a lot."
"It's nice to get recognition, but it's a team thing really because we're all playing incredible defense everyone is helping out," Lehner said after being named the second star of January.
It's unusual to see two goalies on the same team post nearly identical numbers and be atop the NHL leaderboards. Both goalies have 17 wins this season, marking just the second time in 15 years that two Isles goalies have hit the 17-win mark. Greiss was a part of that platoon as well, as he won 23 games to Jaroslav Halak's 18 in 2015-16.
Goalies don't always have the easiest time sharing a net, but that hasn't been the case between Lehner and Greiss who've formed a partnership this season. They push each other in practice and by elevating their games individually, they have forced the other to do the same.
Take Jan. 18 and 20 for example. Two days after Greiss posted a 19-save shutout over the Washington Capitals, Lehner had a 19-save shutout of his own against the Anaheim Ducks, making them the fourth duo to post consecutive shutouts in Isles history. This season, Lehner (3) and Greiss (4) have combined for seven shutouts in 57 games, the third-most shutouts in a season for the Islanders, three shy of tying the team record, set in 1975-76.
"We've both been playing really well all season," Lehner said. "Honestly it's just been spurts when I've been in and we haven't scored a lot of goals and when he's been in it's just been a little back and forth, but we've both played really good so far the whole season. We get along really well."
Lehner's referencing the ebbs and flows for both goalies this year. They've taken turns carrying the load, with Greiss starting 10-of-14 games from Oct. 28 - Nov. 26 and Lehner starting 10-of-12 from Dec. 23 - Jan. 17. Trotz said the easy-going nature of both goalies - Greiss could remain unflapped in a tornado, while Trotz reffered to Lehner as "chill" - has made the shared situation easy.
Video: Lehner Named 2nd Star of the Month
"I know they'd like to play every game, I get that, but I think what it's doing is it's keeping them fresh," Trotz said. "That's going to be an advantage to us. I'm looking for any advantage I can get."
Since the all-star break it's been a nearly even split, with each goalie getting four starts apiece. They're likely to keep splitting the work with a set of three games in four nights on the horizon in Western Canada.
No matter who is in net, the Isles are in good hands and have confidence in their goalies.
"Whenever we go into a game with the two netminders we have right now, we have a lot of confidence and believe in each other," Casey Cizikas said.