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Thomas Greiss, Robin Lehner have Islanders atop the pack

Goaltenders rank among league leaders and are benefiting from Barry Trotz's system. 

Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders

Thomas Greiss #1 of the New York Islanders makes a save during the second period against the New Jersey Devils at Barclays Center on Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018 in New York City. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

A quick glance at the NHL statistical leaders helps explain the Islanders’ strong start.

Goalie Thomas Greiss is third in goals-against average and save percentage and netminding partner Robin Lehner is 10th in save percentage. Each already has one shutout. Greiss made 35 saves in Saturday night’s 3-0 win over the Devils and could be among the NHL’s three stars of the week when they are announced on Monday.

The Isles (8-4-1), who missed the playoffs the previous two seasons, lead the Metropolitan Division. They will bring a five-game winning streak into Monday night’s game against the Canadiens at Barclays Center, which concludes a three-game homestand.

The Islanders did not practice on Sunday after playing five games in eight days.

The goalies are benefiting from the much tighter defensive structure implemented by new coach Barry Trotz, and their play has allowed the Isles to play a more confident game overall.

“Both guys have done a great job,” said right wing Josh Bailey, who had two assists on Saturday to extend his point streak to eight games. “It just brings a lot of confidence to us and a lot of belief that we’re going to get the job done when those two are playing the way they have been.”

Greiss has started two straight, including Thursday night’s 3-2 shootout win over the visiting Penguins, and used his stick to stop breakaways by Hart Trophy winners Sidney Crosby and Taylor Hall in successive games. Lehner exited Tuesday’s 6-3 win at Pittsburgh after two periods because of back spasms but dressed as the backup Saturday.

Lehner is 4-2-1 with a 2.45 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage in seven starts, including a 35-save performance in a 4-0 win over the visiting Sharks on Oct. 8. Greiss is 4-2-0 with a 1.85 GAA and a .944 save percentage in six starts. The NHL averages were 2.87 and .908, respectively.

Lehner has played 391:44 and Greiss has logged 389:51.  In other words, it’s an equal partnership.

“We’re playing good as a team,” Lehner said. “It’s easier for us goalies to play that well, too, when we have a good structure. It’s a really good partnership. If you look at the league these days, you need two good goalies. You need both goalies going as good as you can at all times.”

Greiss is in the second season of a three-year, $10-million deal and has had these spurts with the Islanders before, most notably in 2015-16, when he went 23-11-4 with a 2.36 GAA and a .925 save percentage and was instrumental in a six-game, first-round win over the Panthers, the Islanders’ first playoff series victory since 1993.

Lehner is on a one-year, $1.5-million deal after spending the last three seasons with the Sabres.

“If your goaltending is not going good, I can tell you your team is not going good,” Trotz said. “I think they’ve done a really good job of getting order in their own game.”

NET GAINS

Thomas Greiss

Record GAA Save pct.

This season 4-2-0 1.85 .944.

Last season 13-8-2 3.82 .892

Career 102-69-22 2.65 .914

Robin Lehner

This season 4-2-1 2.45 .928

Last season (Sabres) 14-26-9 3.01 .908

Career 76-99-36 2.80 .916

New York Sports