In the nearly two weeks since the Islanders sent down increasingly porous goaltender Jaroslav Halak and replaced him with Thomas Greiss, no Islander has performed better in a key role. But the 30-year old Greiss’ work has been obscured by the team’s goal-a-game offense.
With the dearth of goals, Jack Capuano summed up the situation in baseball parlance. “I just think it’s tough for goaltenders when you don’t get run support,’’ he said Thursday at Northwell Health Ice Center. “And we have to find a way, obviously, just three goals in the last three games. Continue to find a way to create some offense, and when we get the opportunity, bury it.’’
The Islanders are heading south for the second game of a home-and-home series with the Panthers. Greiss likely will make the start Friday night. With a bevy of games on the horizon, Capuano hinted that No. 2 goalie J-F Berube is deserving of a chance.
“Goaltending’s been good,’’ Capuano said. “Greiss deserves the opportunity after what he did last year [in the playoffs] when Jaro went down. He stood tall for us; he gave us a chance.’’
It’s possible that Halak’s salary — $4.5 million this season and the same in 2017-18 — beat out Greiss and his $2-million salary at the start of the season. That changed after Halak allowed four goals to the Wild late last month and was put on waivers. He cleared and is in Bridgeport as an insurance policy for injuries.
Greiss is 9-6 with a top-10 save percentage of .927. He has allowed 2.29 goals a game, which places him just outside the league leaders.
Greiss does not focus on the lack of scoring by his teammates, saying: “I worry about my job. I’m not going to score 10 goals. I don’t think I’ve ever scored a goal in my life. I don’t even think I could shoot the puck to the other side of the net. I just worry about keeping the puck out, trying to give the guys the best chance that I can.
“Before the break, we scored a bunch of goals. The guys have been awesome in front of me. Right now, the puck hasn’t been bouncing in for us, but I’m sure it’ll come again. I just got to do my job and help the guys out and find points wherever we can.’’
Capuano is not planning any major changes up front. “If I thought it was something with the system or the structure, we would change it, but the opportunities are there,’’ he said. “It’s like baseball. If you were a .300 hitter for two straight years and all of a sudden you bat .240, you know the potential is there. You just gotta keep working and try to find the way to get back on track.’’
Notes & quotes: Defenseman Travis Hamonic was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. Defenseman Scott Mayfield was brought up on loan from Bridgeport.