With the Islanders heading straight off to Columbus after Wednesday’s game to face the Blue Jackets on Thursday, that likely means Thomas Greiss gets the start.
It would be his first start since he was shelled for six goals in Tampa on Dec. 5 and just his third start in the last 10. That means Jaroslav Halak has been playing better, or at least had been until he was pulled in the second period Wednesday night after giving up four goals to the Stars with Greiss taking his place. Greiss is in need of some work to break out of the funk he’s been in during his rare appearances.
“He’s been working hard. We’ve talked as a group, trying to keep him sharp, bringing him in on some ideas of how to keep him sharp — bringing in extra shooters, we had a scrimmage-like drill for 15 minutes yesterday and he was in there the whole time,” Doug Weight said. “He knows how to do it.”
Greiss has been a backup goaltender for the majority of his NHL career, but not so much in his three years with the Islanders — 101 of his 170 career starts have come in the blue and orange.
“You just don’t want to overthink it all,” Greiss said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “Just wait for your opportunity and try to play well.”
There may be a bit of irony to the rotation now, with Halak on the last year of his contract outplaying Greiss, who inked a three-year, $10-million extension in January after the Isles waived and jettisoned Halak to the AHL.
But things change in goal, sometimes day by day.
“Listen, we’re running with Jaro a bit,” Weight said. “He’s earned it. It doesn’t have to be a controversy. The fact is he’s playing pretty well right now and he’s going to play the majority until things change. If Thomas goes in, I expect him to be energetic, big, strong, on the front of his crease, giving us a chance to win.”
Johnny Boychuk returned on Wednesday after a three-game absence due to a lower-body injury, suffered blocking a shot in the loss in Tampa eight days ago. Boychuk had been skating regularly since then but the Isles held off on the defenseman returning until Wednesday.
Dennis Seidenberg was the lone scratch on defense. Thomas Hickey (upper body), who was placed on injured reserve after being hurt on Saturday in Boston, skated for the first time since that injury on Wednesday morning. The earliest Hickey could return is Saturday.