Garth Snow was a goaltender for the Islanders before he became their general manager, so he has a keen eye for the position. The Islanders have two goaltenders, though for all the starts Jaroslav Halak has made, it seems that Thomas Greiss is just around for emergencies.
In 35 games, Halak has a 3.20 goals against and .910 save percentage. Greiss has appeared in 19 games, giving up an average of 3.94 goals with an .887 save percentage.
“We’re trying to get into the playoffs and once you get in it’s goaltending, health, a little bit of luck and anything can happen in the playoffs,’’ Snow said Wednesday.
But to get there, Greiss likely will have to help out a tiring Halak. Asked if he has concerns about Greiss, Snow said, “I have concerns with any player. And it’s concerns in regards to helping the coaching staff and the player find the solution to help that player perform at peak performance.
“We’re fortunate that we have Jaro Halak, who was the top goaltender in the World Cup a little over a year ago. He’s got a tremendous track record of clutch playoff performances. Without Thomas Greiss two years ago, we don’t advance to the second round. Last year, he was excellent for us. It got to the point where we probably played him too much and fatigue set in. For us, we know we have two quality goalies. It’s finding the right solutions to help them perform at peak level.’’
When asked if there’s any thought of getting another player to backup Halak, Snow said, “That’s a whole different question. I’m comfortable when our goalies are performing at their capabilities that we can go out there on any given night and win.’’
There is no goaltending help coming from Bridgeport, nor is there any other player expected to assist in the playoff chase. “Not at the level of a Devon Toews (who is out for the season) or a Sebastian Aho,’’ Snow said. “I don’t think anyone envisioned Sebastian Aho, as a draft pick this past June, being on the New York Islanders for the amount of time that he has performed.’’
As for Josh Ho-Sang, there is no timetable for the 22-year-old’s return.
Snow said Ho-Sang’s “play will dictate’’ a promotion. “Like any young player, he has deficiencies in his games and things he needs to work on,’’ Snow said. “The great thing, Josh Ho-Sang has been no issue off the ice. He’s been a superior player when it comes to creating offense. He still needs, like many other young players on their entry-level contract, he needs the experience and to make mistakes at the AHL level so he doesn’t make them at the NHL level. And he’s made great progress, from (speaking with) the coaching staff in Bridgeport. Those are good, positive signs. But we don’t want to be in a situation where he becomes a yo-yo up and down from the AHL to the NHL. We want the next time he comes here, he’s here to stay.’’
Snow said he holds no ill will toward Ho-Sang, who made a bad first impression by showing up late for the first day of training camp in 2015. He incurred Snow’s wrath and was sent back to his team in the Ontario Hockey league. “I have four boys aged 12 through 7 so I’m pretty demonstrative at times with them, too,’’ Snow said. “He’s a top five talent in that (2014) draft. We were lucky to draft him 28th.’’