New York Islanders: Thomas Greiss Gets First Start Of The Year

Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images) /

For the first time in 2019-2020, Thomas Greiss will start in net for the New York Islanders. It appears the goalies will split time again.

After Semyon Varlamov got the first start of the year on Friday night, the New York Islanders turn to Thomas Greiss for Game 2 of the season. Last year the Islanders benefitted from a two goalie system and that looks like the plan again this year.

Robin Lehner, now with the Chicago Blackhawks, and Thomas Greiss had essentially a 50/50 split of games last season. Lehner started 43 games, while Greiss was able to get the start in net for 39 games.

It allowed Barry Trotz to keep both goalies fresh and both netminders posted career years under this 1a and 1b system. Lehner stole the show with a .930 save percentage and a 2.13 goals against average.

He got the headlines and the Vezina nomination, well deserved of course, while Greiss kind of flew under the radar. Thomas Greiss had a .927 save percentage and a 2.28 goals against average. His save percentage and goals against average were both good enough for fourth in the league in their respective categories.

Where Thomas Greiss excelled was on 5v5 opportunities. According to Natural Stat Trick, Greiss had the second-best 5v5 on save percentage in the league with a .939. He was also excellent in high danger chances save percentage on 5v5. He had a .868 HDSV% in 5v5 which was fourth best in the league (10 spots better than Robin Lehner).

While Islander fans were upset, and for good reason, with the Robin Lehner departure the Isles are still in good hands with their 1b goalie, Thomas Greiss. Greiss is at his best when he is in that 1b role which is what we saw from him last year and likely what we will see from him this year as well.

If you look back at his Islanders tenure, Greiss always began to struggle when the team was forced to ride him for a while. For example, in 2016-2017 the Isles decided to send Jaroslav Halak down to the minors.

With J.F. Berube’s play being unusable, the Islanders ended up having Greiss play in a career high 51 games. His save percentage was a .913 while his goals against average went up to a 2.69. Those numbers are okay, but he was much more effective the year prior when he was the 1b with Jaroslav Halak.

That year, starting 38 games, he had a .925 save percentage and a 2.36 goals against average. The more Greiss is used, the less effective he becomes.

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If Greiss starts somewhere between 30-35 games for the Islanders this year they should be in great shape. Unless there is an injury it appears that’s the direction we’re headed for the second year in a row.