The New York Islanders have dropped two very winnable games before their current non-CBA enforced three-day break. And for some reason, the blame is inexplicably falling onto the goaltending.
After coming back from a five-day CBA mandated break, the New York Islanders went on the road for back-to-back games against the Colorado Avalanche and the Arizona Coyotes. The two absolute worst teams in the league.
Even though the Islanders are ranked just a few spots above the aforementioned two, these were games the Isles were favored to win. Against the Avalanche the Isles were a -135 (57.5% chance) to win and against the Coyotes a -130 (56.5% chance of winning).
The Islanders should have won those games. And so because they didn’t someone has to pay for it. The wrath of the fan must fall to some poor scapegoat that surely deserves it. For some reason, some fans have chosen to pick Thomas Greiss as their scapegoat.
We as sports fans aren’t always the most rational bunch. We say things we don’t actually mean to try and get over a loss. I get it. But placing blame on the one thing that’s a net positive for a team floundering at the bottom of the standings is…impressive.
What Has Greiss Done
To the numbers! In the two games that Greiss has been taken to task on, the most recent overtime losses to Colorado and Arizona, Greiss’ put up a .949 and a .963 SV%. Stopping 63 of a possible 66 shots against.
The average goaltender save percentage in the NHL at the moment is .914. That’s for any goaltender that has played over 12 games in the NHL this season. Just on that merit alone, Greiss is putting in above average performances.
But how about reviewing the goals themselves? Was Greiss at fault for the three goals scored against him combined in those two games?
First is Gabriel Landeskog‘s goal. Notice how Seidenberg just drops his active coverage of Landeskog the second he hits the face circle. He, Seidenberg then just drops and sits right in front of Greiss. Then the bodies of Alan Quine, who’s now covering the Av’s captain, Mikko Rantanen, and Nathan MacKinnon join the fray to absolutely clog the shooting lane.
That’s four players immediately in Greiss’ line of sight. It’s a miracle the puck even made it on net. Greiss had no chance to stop a puck he never saw. Maybe Seidenberg should have continued chasing his man, rather than concede enough ice to get a shot off.
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The game winner was scored in overtime, as the Isles served a two-minute penalty for a Calvin de Haan hook on Landeskog. As the Avalanche cycled it around the Islanders three helpless defencemen. Jarome Iginla throws a puck on net that Greiss just can’t kick out far enough. And MacKinnon buries the rebound.
Was Greiss at fault for that goal? In a way sure. He probably could have just gloved it and get the whistle. But then again, maybe de Haan shouldn’t have hooked Landeskog. He just came off five-days worth of rest. He shouldn’t be taking lazy penalties like that.
Then comes the game in Arizona the very next day. The Isles are up 1-0 until the Coyotes finally get on the board with just 5:55 left to play in the game. And on their 22nd shot on net they get it to go by a, again, screened Thomas Greiss.
Just watch Greiss’ reaction as the puck is first tipped and then once he sees it go by him. He barely moves, until its too late, and gives Calvin de Haan a glaring glance.
Greiss Ain’t Your Guy
That’s it. Greiss let three goals in 69:31 seconds of back-to-back hockey. That’s right. Greiss played both games on the Isles post-bye-week road trip out west. And let in one that can fairly, in my opinion, be attributed to him.
Otherwise, Greiss kept the Islanders in both games. It was the Islanders inability to score that let them down. Something the Isles had in spades before the break. Where they scored an average of 4.6 goals-for per game between December 20th to December 31st.
Greiss isn’t the problem for the New York Islanders. If anything he’ll be part of the solution going forward. Assuming they sign him that is. Greiss is in the last year of a two-year deal paying him an average of $1.5 million. Unless they can somehow steal an absolute star goaltender they should re-up on Thomas Greiss now before he joins the list of player that left in free agency.