CALGARY — Doug Weight is “going with his gut,” he said Saturday, and coming back with Thomas Greiss in goal for the Islanders’ date with the Flames this afternoon.
That may come as a surprise, given that Greiss played on consecutive nights in Dallas on Thursday and Chicago on Friday. But Weight, who has bucked the trend of current NHL coaches by not only revealing his lineups and goaltenders ahead of time but explaining why he’s doing what he’s doing, sees no reason to change his goaltender.
“I look around the league this time of year and you see guys like [Capitals goaltender Braden] Holtby playing 10, 12 in a row, and I don’t feel differently about Thomas,” Weight said after the Islanders’ practice. “He’s our No. 1 goaltender.”
Weight doesn’t want to knock Greiss’ backup, J-F Berube, who has allowed four goals in each of his last two appearances — in a win over the Devils on Feb. 19 and in relief of Greiss in the 7-0 shelling Feb. 25 in Columbus.
“I’m going with my gut here and we’re going to ride Thomas for a bit,” Weight said. “He’s a big, strong guy and I think the opposite of some people — I think when you’re big and strong, you don’t wear down easily. He was unreal in Chicago.”
That’s not up for debate. Greiss was the only reason the Islanders came within 1:14 of shutting out the Blackhawks. He made 30 saves, 14 in the third period as Chicago pressed for the tie. They got it on Artemi Panarin’s slapper through a screen, a shot that Greiss never saw.
Weight was fully pleased with his entire roster on Friday. He disputed the notion that his Islanders were hanging on by a thread the whole night in the United Center. “We had a few chances to make it 2-0 in the second and [Corey] Crawford had to come up huge for them,” he said.
The only change Weight will make among his skaters is putting Thomas Hickey back in the lineup Sunday. Johnny Boychuk sat out Saturday’s practice after blocking Brent Seabrook’s shot on Friday. If Boychuk can go against the Flames, Adam Pelech likely will come out to make room for Hickey, the Calgary native who was a surprise scratch in Chicago.
“Hicks is a big part of our leadership group and he understood it was a one-game thing,” Weight said. “It wasn’t performance-based whatsoever. I thought it was a good game for Pelly to play [Friday].”
Weight liked Josh Ho-Sang’s second game as much as the 21-year-old forward’s first the night before. Ho-Sang still hasn’t recorded his first NHL point, but Weight sent the dynamic rookie out to take the first attempt in the shootout on Friday. Crawford made the save.
“I had it in my head to cut down to three lines in the last five minutes,” Weight said, noting that he cut Ho-Sang out of the rotation down the stretch. “But when the time came, I really had to think about it. Some guys with that sort of speed and skill come up [from the AHL] and they’re like, ‘Whoa.’ You can see the pace takes them by surprise.
“But Josh has fit in. He gets the pace, he doesn’t seem fazed by any of it. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that he’s taken this all with a very level head.”