Whether it’s beginning a new job or moving to a new city, finding your niche can be somewhat of a struggle unless you’re Penguins goaltender Thomas Greiss, who has made a seamless transition into the organization these past few months.
Greiss, who spent last season in Arizona backing up Mike Smith, was signed by Pittsburgh general manager Jim Rutherford this past summer in order to keep things fresh between the pipes. After beating out last year’s backup Jeff Zatkoff in training camp, the 28-year-old German national found it fairly easy to find his place in the locker room.
“It’s a good group,” Greiss said. “They’re very welcoming, very open and it’s been a lot of fun playing here.”
In the mind of his head coach, Mike Johnston, it’s not surprising how well he has gotten along with the other players and coaches.
“He’s a calming influence on the team, whether it’s practice or games,” Johnston said. “He’s calm and controlled. He works really well with Mike Bales on the technical part of his game.
“He’s got a great personality. He understands his role, but he’s played exceptional when he’s gotten in the net.”
Being a backup goaltender has its own challenges. It can be difficult staying sharp when you go through long stretches without playing a game. But that has not been an issue for Greiss.
Two months into his tenure as a Penguin, Greiss has had some early-season success while taking the load off starting netminder Marc-Andre Fleury. Through five games, all of which have come on the road, Greiss has a winning record of 3-1-1, while posting an exceptional save percentage of .927 and goals-against average of 2.37.
“He’s been very solid since the beginning of the season,” Fleury said. “He’s given us a chance to win every night.”
Fleury likes how personable a guy Greiss is and like his head coach, he isn’t surprised at how quickly the backup found his place.
“It’s always easy to get along with a goalie,” Fleury said. “It’s a little weird at first because you don’t know each other. It’s like a blind date. But he’s a good guy. He’s easy to get along with and a good teammate.”
The starting goaltender isn’t the only Penguin that has been impressed by the Greiss’ success either. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is thankful for how the German netminder has come up big in the five games he started in the cage.
“He’s played really well,” Crosby said. “Every game he’s held us in it. There were a couple that we haven’t played that great in front of him. He’s really done a nice job for us and made sure we were taken care of when we weren’t at our best.”
While it seemed easy for Greiss, as a new guy, to find his niche in a new city, he knows that there are other important challenges that await. To be successful, it’s important to keep moving forward.
“I just hope I can keep it going,” Greiss said, “keep up the wins and help the team win every night.”