Throughout the entire postseason, any time Islanders coach Barry Trotz was asked about his goaltenders, he said he was fortunate to have two good ones, Semyon Varlamov and Thomas Greiss. Regardless of whom he chose, Trotz would say, he couldn’t make a bad decision.
But before his team took on the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 7 of their playoff series Saturday night in Toronto, Trotz did concede that having to choose at all made his job harder. With everything else he has to worry about on a daily basis, it would be easier if he didn’t have to pick a goaltender — if the play of one or the other simply made any decision moot.
Trotz opted for Greiss in Game 7, and like so many of his decisions this postseason, it worked. He made 16 saves and earned his first career playoff shutout as he backstopped the Islanders to a 4-0 victory over the Flyers that propelled them into the Eastern Conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Game 1 of that series will be Monday night in Edmonton.
“It’s just fun,’’ Greiss said when asked about earning his first playoff shutout in his first Game 7. “I’m just happy, more happy, that the team advances. That was a huge win for us and . . . it’s unreal how the guys played.’’
Trotz said he wanted a new look in goal for Game 7.
“I just thought that . . . this is like, I guess it’s game 16 for us, and we’ve played that over, you know, really a relatively short time,’’ Trotz said of why he turned to Greiss.
“And then I just thought that the last two games, you know, they got to Varly a little bit in terms of that, and he’s played a lot of great hockey for us. And I just wanted the freshness.’’
Varlamov had started the first 12 postseason games for the Islanders before Greiss started Game 4 against the Flyers in the second game of a back-to-back. The Islanders won that game to take a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, and Varlamov went back in for Games 5 and 6 as the Isles tried to close the series out.
The Flyers won both of those games in overtime, and so Trotz went to Greiss, who was 1-1 with a 1.68 goals-against average and a .949 save percentage in the playoffs.
“You have a lot of trust with Thomas and Varly,’’ Trotz said. “We wouldn’t be at this point without both those guys, so Thomas came in and won two games. But I was looking for some freshness.
“[You] try to ride the hot guy as long as you can, and then if you have to go to the next guy, you do that. And we’ll see how it plays out now.’’
How it plays out now is that the Islanders will travel to Edmonton on Sunday and likely will not practice before Game 1 against Tampa Bay on Monday night.
And Trotz will have to make a decision.
Go back to Varlamov?
Stay with Greiss?