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Red Wings Wrap-Up: Greiss perseveres through first year in Detroit

12-year NHL veteran goalie bounced back from tough opening month to finish 2020-21 season undefeated in regulation in final nine starts

by Josh Berenter @DetroitRedWings /

DETROIT -- Thomas Greiss' first year for the Detroit Red Wings can best be described as a tale of two halves.

Greiss made six starts before earning his first victory of the 2020-21 season, but his early win-loss record wasn't indicative of his level of play, and the 12-year NHL veteran goaltender rebounded to finish 6-0-3 in his final nine starts of the year.

After signing with the Red Wings as a free agent in October 2020 and impressing the coaching staff in training camp, Greiss was pressed into more duty than he expected early in the season when former Red Wings goalie Jonathan Bernier was sidelined with injuries.

Video: TBL@DET: Greiss records shutout vs. Lightning

The 35-year-old started 11 of the club's first 16 games, and despite a 2.90 goals-against average and .904 save percentage, Greiss only had one win to show for it.

As the season pressed on and Greiss gained more chemistry with his defensive corps, the wins started piling up and the veteran continued instilling confidence in his young teammates and the coaching staff.

"He's been calm, kept everything right in front of him and swallowed up a lot," Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. "When he's out there, he has a calming effect. He makes key saves. He keeps us in the game."

Greiss' comeback campaign came to a head in the final week of the season when he earned back-to-back shutouts against the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning on April 27 and May 1, respectively. Greiss retained a shutout streak for nearly 150 minutes of game action, and he was named NHL First Star of the Week for the week of May 2 for his efforts.

Video: Greiss, McDavid, Varlamov earn Three Stars of Week

"Over this stretch, he's been solid and we've been solid defensively in front of him," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said as the season winded down. "Those two things usually go hand in hand. When you play good defense, you give your goalie a chance to make saves and then he makes the ones he's supposed to and makes a big save at a big moment. That's what he's done."

Greiss is poised to begin his second year in Hockeytown next month alongside new goaltending partner Alex Nedeljkovic, who the Red Wings acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in a July trade for Bernier.

With the promise that the 25-year-old Nedeljkovic has shown in his young career, mixed with the experience and veteran savvy of Greiss, the Red Wings are confident in their goaltending tandem for the 2021-22 campaign and are hoping the bolstered back end will lead to many more wins.

Video: DET@CBJ: Greiss records shutout vs. Blue Jackets

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