Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
In professional baseball, there are some pitchers who have been known to have 'personal catchers', players who go behind the plate only when said hurler takes the mound. The New York Islanders and head coach Jack Capuano might want to anoint Thomas Greiss as their 'personal goaltender' after he stole a badly needed two points in Anaheim last night, defeating the Ducks in a 14-round shootout, 3-2.
The problems that have plagued New York all season are still present, from bad defensive zone clearances to a poor breakout and neutral zone play, which instead of creating speed and flow into the offensive zone, more often than not forces a dump-in. But there were flashes, even if they were not sustained over 60 minutes, but rather the first 30, of some of the Islanders hockey that made this team very tough to play against over the past two years.
Even so, this game was all about Greiss, who was up to everything the Ducks would throw his way, stopping 39 of 41 shots, which included 7 in a lopsided overtime where the Islanders seemingly had possession for about 10 seconds and 10 of 14 shootout attempts. The Islanders netminder saw his team-leading save percentage rise to .918, after posting a .925 mark last season, and his record improve to 3-3-0.
The only goals he would allow would be on a Cam Fowler blast that was deflected off Cal Clutterbuck and a 2 on 1 goal to Richard Rakell, after three Islanders went to Corey Perry and left the Anaheim winger all alone for an easy one-timer.
Time and time again, Greiss is proving his worth and with the situation surrounding the Islanders crowded crease and an announcement from Garth Snow that Jaroslav Halak is very much available, concern over his ability to handle #1 responsibilities should be silenced, if and when a trade ever materializes. It's been noticed by analysts, beat writers and fans on social media that New York seems to play a more composed, calm game in front of Greiss, a fact that is not lost on defenseman Thomas Hickey.
"He's so calm out there, it really spills over to everyone. Even in the shootout, he's just an old-school, stand-up style goaltender who doesn't let much get to him." Hickey told Newsday's Arthur Staple.
After falling behind 1-0 a minute into the game, New York found themselves on the right side of old lady luck, getting Adam Pelech's first NHL tally on a fumble by Anaheim goaltender Jonathan Bernier and a knuckle-puck by Josh Bailey that found the net when it seemed Bernier was awfully slow to move laterally. The good fortune would continue across the second and third periods, with a couple of posts hit by the Ducks and near-misses before the aforementioned overtime period where it seemed as if Anaheim was playing pond hockey with some friends.
Was it a perfect effort? Not by any means. But it was their first road win of the 2016-17 season, after losing their first five away from Barclays Center. It was two points they needed very badly, with visits to Los Angeles tonight and San Jose Friday afternoon still to come before flying back east. They can thank Thomas Greiss. For all of it.
Hickey continued to Newsday: "We needed them (the points) so bad, we need the two tomorrow and the two after that, as well. But it starts here."
Beyond The Box: Jonathan Ledecky attended last night's game with general manager Garth Snow and a source told SNY Scott Malkin flew in from London to be in attendance as well….Islanders once again got out-attempted (Corsi, all situations) 71-58….The Ducks also won 38/71 faceoffs (54%)….Nick Leddy led defenseman in ice time at 24:53, John Tavares led forwards at 23:27….Rookie Anthony Beauvillier, inserted on Tavares' line with Josh Bailey, had 3 shot attempts in 15:01.