Halak Injury Leaves Questions for Isles
It was as if they had a spare part oiled and ready to go. When starting goalkeeper Jaroslav Halak went down with an injury this week, the New York Islanders weren't fretting as much as other teams would. After all, backup Thomas Greiss was threatening to take the starting job anyway. But the situation with Halak missing for the rest of the season does leave Islanders backers with a couple of questions to ponder.
The first of those questions is, how far can Greiss go? He entered Saturday's game at Boston with a nice 18-6-4 record, 2.23 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. But that's playing along at a comfortable pace of one or two games a week, because he has shared duties with Halak in goal. Before this season, he had never started more than 20 games in a season. How he'll handle the extra workload will be a key component to the Islanders' chances, particularly in the postseason. And he has just one playoff appearance.
This leads us to another question, one that is more hypothetical: What if – say, a couple of games into a playoff series – Griess has one of those games, like allowing three goals in a five-minute span? Does Coach Jack Capuano stick with him? Or does he turn to the new backup, Jean-Francois Berube, who has played in just three games this year? That notion entered the minds of fans when Greiss allowed four to get by him in a 4-3 shootout loss in Toronto on Wednesday, Greiss's first day as No. 1 in goal.
Not to put a damper on hopes of Islanders fans. The Isles are playing well lately, having won four of their last five, chasing the Rangers and holding a comfortable lead on Pittsburgh in the Metropolitan Division race. They should make the playoffs, and there's a decent chance that folks in New York get what they hope for; a Rangers-Islanders series in the postseason. But depth in goal has to be something for Islanders backers to think about in the next month, before the regular season ends.
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