The New York Islanders won’t have a starter in nets when the 2019-20 season starts. The job will bounce between the two keepers they have. Just as it did last season.
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. By winning the Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals scored against last season, the New York Islanders strategy to split starts between two goalies was a solid choice. It worked flawlessly.
So of course when it came to establishing a strategy in nets for this season, the Islanders decided to keep the same plan.
Again, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. With the fewest goals against and with both of the Islanders goalies finishing in the top five for save percentage and goals-against average last season, the 1A-1B goalie plan isn’t broken.
Same As Last Season
On Saturday Islanders coach Barry Trotz told Corry Wright, that the Isles will split games right down the middle between Varlamov and Greiss for the time being, just like they did last season between Lehner and Greiss:
"“We’ll let it play out. The same premise as last year,” Trotz said on Saturday. “It’s becoming more common in the NHL and obviously we had a split down the middle, so we were leaders last year. But I think it’s harder and harder for a true number one to play 70 games a year. We’ll let it play out. We’re going to play the guys that give us a chance to win every night. That’s not a big concern for me right now. We’ll let it play out a bit.”"
It’s the perfect situation for Semyon Varlamov to come into and give the Islanders his A-game. An A-game that saw him post a 2.68GAA and 0.920SV% for the Colorado Avalanche just two seasons ago.
We already know that Thomas Greiss can perform under a work share program as the Islanders have. He did it just last season, posting an impressive 2.16GAA and 0.927SV%.
Splitting the starts between the two keepers allows the Islanders to keep both goalies as fresh as possible which should maximize the output from both. So long as you have two capable keepers.
Two seasons ago, Sportsnet’s Dimitri Filipovic tried to show how few teams get quality starts from a single starter. But he also showed how many teams are being sunk from poor goalie play between the starter and backup. A 1A-1B situation works if you have the right duo.
But the Islanders have a good tandem yet again this year. Sure, Varalmov had a less than average season in 2018-19, but he’s been a career 2.68GAA and 0.916SV% goalie. Just for some perspective, Sergei Bobrovsky has averaged 2.41GAA and 0.919SV%.
Want your voice heard? Join the Eyes On Isles team!
Varlamov is a good goalie, and so is Thomas Greiss. This is a good strategy for the Islanders. Not only because it worked last season, but because again this year the Islanders have a strong tandem to pull it off.