The New York Islanders will enter the 2017-2018 season with a good problem to have. They have two all-star caliber goalies and will need to make a decision on who will be the number one goaltender.
Luckily it’s almost time to put the three-goalie fiasco of last season behind us. This season the New York Islanders goaltenders should provide a position of strength for the team. The Islanders, as currently constructed, will enter the season with both Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss competing to be the number one goalie.
Halak and Greiss have both been the Isles number one goalie for long stretches at a time. Halak was acquired to be the starter for the 2014-2015 season, and Greiss was acquired to be the backup the next season.
In Halak’s first season he led the Islanders to a 101 point season, their most since 92 points in 2006-2007. Halak only played in 36 games in 2015-2016 because of injuries, and Greiss helped to lead the Islanders to their first playoff series win in 23 years.
Halak was an All-Star
The Islanders brought Halak in to solidify the goaltending position, and his first season was a complete success. Halak won 38 games in his first season with the Isles, which set the franchise record (Chris Osgood, Rick DiPietro, and Billy Smith all sit in second with 32). Halak also made the All-Star team in his initial season with the Islanders.
The Islanders thrived in the first half with Halak in net and even found themselves in first place in the Eastern Conference in the middle of January. Eventually, the Islanders would falter down the stretch and finished third in the Metropolitan division. The Capitals finished second and hosted the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs.
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Halak finished the regular season with a .914 SV% and a 2.43 GAA. The Islanders lost to the Capitals in seven games, but Halak’s numbers actually improved. He finished with a .926 SV% and a 2.30 GAA stat line for that series.
Halak continued to improve his play in 2015-2016. He was limited to 36 games due to injuries but did finish with a .919 SV% and a 2.30 GAA.
Three Goalie System Ruined Halak’s 2016-2017
Outside of Garth Snow, I don’t think you’d be able to find anybody that thought carrying three goalies was a good idea. Halak’s agent, Allan Walsh, certainly didn’t agree with the system.
That tweet seemed to put Halak in Snow’s doghouse for the rest of the season. Halak was demoted to the Islanders’ AHL affiliate the Bridgeport Sound Tigers by the end of the 2016 calendar year. At that time it seemed like Halak’s days as an Islander were numbered. He was eventually able to make his way back to the big club.
Halak finished last year strong and has shown the ability to carry the team when he is healthy. He has shown in his Islanders’ career that he can be an All-Star, and playing in a conventional two goalie system I expect him to return to form. As long as both Halak and Greiss stay healthy, the goaltending has the potential to make it a special season for the Islanders.