New York Islanders: Five Key Factors to Meet Expectation in 2016-17
Goaltending can make or break a season. It sounds hyperbolic, but it really isn’t. Just ask the 2015-16 Columbus Blue Jackets how Sergei Bobrovski’s .836 save percentage and 3.8 goals-against-average affected their season.
Or better yet, ask a Montréal Canadiens fan how important goaltending can be. If you could vote for an injured player Carey Price would have certainly won the Hart Trophy as the most important player.
Goaltending can make or break your season. (I repeated that on purpose). For 2016-17 the Islanders are going to welcome back both Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss from the World Cup of Hockey. Both had very different tournaments.
Halak stared in net for the Europeans as they punched above their perceived weight and challenged the Canadians in the finals. Greiss, was unfortunately on the end of a 10-minute shellacking by Team North America.
Related Story: Team Europe Did No Favours for Greiss
As an Isles fan, I can only hope that Halak is going to bless us with the same amazing display. But Halak is coming off a season cut short due to injury. Will that extra bit of competitive hockey take it’s toll on Halak’s fragile groin?
Greiss is a capable backup but should have been challenging for the starting position this season. His .925 save percentage and 2.36 goals-against-average last season was a revelation after Halak went out with injury.
But 10 minutes with the Europeans as they tinkered with their strategy and the narrative totally changed. Greiss is going to have to once again prove himself. And he’ll get his chances this season.
The regular season was condensed this year due to the World Cup of Hockey. Meaning the breaks between games have been shortened compared to 2015-16. To make sure Halak doesn’t go down with injury again, Greiss is going to get his fair share of starts.
If both can put up average starter numbers (.917 SV% and 2.41 GAA) the Isles are definitely in good shape to get that 100 points and push for a conference final appearance.