Islanders' goalie Greiss hopes his play does the talking
March 15, 2016 12:07 AM
Michael Dwyer/Associated Press
Boston's Loui Eriksson, left, looks for the rebound off Islanders goalie Thomas Greiss during the first period of Saturday's game in Boston.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Thomas Greiss doesn’t talk a very good game.
Doesn’t talk much of a game at all, in fact.
Greiss dispenses words as if they were Krugerrands and is so laid back that, by comparison, former presidential candidate Ben Carson acts as if he mainlines caffeine.
“He’s very calm, relaxed,” said Marc-Andre Fleury, Greiss’ goaltending partner with the Penguins a season ago. “He doesn’t burn energy for no reason.”
Turns out conserving energy was a shrewd move by Greiss, because he might need all he can get over the next month or so.
After spending five-plus seasons as a backup in the NHL, during which time he started as many as 20 games only once, Greiss became the New York Islanders go-to goalie a week ago, when Jaroslav Halak was injured in a 2-1 victory against the Penguins in Brooklyn.
Halak isn’t due back until after the regular season, which means the Islanders will rely on Greiss to help them earn a playoff berth. New York’s battle for one continues when it faces the Penguins tonight at Consol Energy Center.
The Islanders are third in the Metropolitan Division, and were two points ahead of the Penguins before facing Florida Monday night.
Greiss, who signed with the Islanders as a free agent in the summer, started against the Panthers, and it wasn’t known whether coach Jack Capuano plans to use him or backup Jean-Francois Berube this evening.
If it’s Greiss, the Penguins don’t expect a significant drop-off from the kind of performance they would anticipate Halak producing.
“They’re both excellent goaltenders,” Penguins goaltending coach Mike Bales said. “Either one of them is capable of carrying that team, for sure.
“Both of them, obviously, when they’re on top of their game, are very good NHL goaltenders. Both of them are capable of doing the job.”
The Penguins might not know Greiss all that well on a personal level — Fleury said he was as reserved around teammates as he was with reporters — but they do have a reasonably good feel for his style after watching him daily in 2014-15.
“He plays kind of deep [in the crease] … so just try to get as many pucks at his feet and then get the rebounds,” right winger Patric Hornqvist said. “That’s how we score these days.”
Bales volunteered that “every goaltender has tendencies,” but the Penguins insist they didn’t detect any major flaws in Greiss’ game that they might be able to exploit.
Greiss entered the Florida game with an 18-7 record, 2.26 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in 31 appearances this season.
His stats are, across the board, better than Halak’s, although the demands on Greiss will change now that he’s assumed the No. 1 spot.
“If it’s a situation where they feel [Greiss] needs to play every game, that’s going to be a little bit different than what he was used to [as the No. 2], so it can be a little bit different, physically,” Bales said.
“Mentally, I think most guys would tell you that they approach every game the same way and it’s just another game. The issues becomes, when you’re tired, being able to track pucks and do things the right way all the time.”
Mind you, the Penguins don’t expect Greiss to stress out over any of that.
“I think he can handle it,” Fleury said. “He’s such a laid-back guy — he doesn’t worry too much about anything — that I think he will be all right.”
Dave Molinari: Dmolinari@Post-Gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.
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