Jury Still Out on Islanders' Goal Keeping
A funny thing happened Friday night: Jaroslav Halak got a shutout. It wasn't funny because of the outcome or the New York Islander goalkeeper's performance; both the team and the player have done well this season. No, what was funny was that Halak entered the game with a 1-4 record in the previous five games, and that his sterling performance continued to put this Islander goaltending situation on tilt. And goalie play could be the key to the team's chances of making a push in the post season.
Back and Forth
Halak and Thomas Greiss have been dividing time between the pipes just about evenly this season. And it seems every time Coach Jack Capuano thinks he has decided on one player in goal, the other arises to change his mind. Advantage Halak after Friday's 1-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Despite the fact that Halak had given up six goals to Carolina on the previous Saturday and 18 goals over the previous five games, his outing vs. the Devils leaves the coach scratching his head. Halak does have a winning record (14-12-4) and a respectable 2.36 goals against average. Greiss, meanwhile, is 16-6-3 with a sharper 2.31 GAA. He's 7-1-1 in his past nine games. The two have been consistently – or inconsistently – back and forth.
It may seem like a luxury to have two able goalkeepers to turn to, but in New York, luxury can become controversy, because having one solid player in goal usually bodes well for the playoffs. There seems to be more consistency everywhere else on the Islander's roster. They hold down the third spot in the Metropolitan Division and at 34-19-6 going into Tuesday's game with the Minnesota Wild, should be a cinch to make post season.
Tricky Business in Goal
But goalkeeping is a tricky business, and taking a team into the playoffs without settling on a sure starter, is even trickier. Keep an eye on these Islanders to see if they do settle before April. If not, don't count on them to make it to May. One good goalie can get hot and take you far. But you have to find the one, first.
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