New York Islanders’ head coach Barry Trotz has a big decision to make as his team is set for a pivotal game three tonight.
Semyon Varlamov or Thomas Greiss in goal?
Varlamov, who had his first bad game of the playoffs in yesterday’s 4-3 overtime loss, was pulled with just more than five minutes remaining in the first period and was replaced by Thomas Greiss after he gave up three goals on ten shots.
This was the first action for Greiss since he split the exhibition game with Varlamov back on July 29th against the Rangers.
The change in goal, which Trotz said after the game was made to try and spark his team, did just that. The Isles battled back from down 3-0 to force overtime while Greiss turned aside all shots he saw through three periods.
In overtime though, Greiss was beaten for the game-winner by Flyers d-man Phillippe Myers after Myers’ shot deflected off Anders Lee’s stick and hopped past his glove.
Tonight’s game three could swing the series, but it would be wise for Trotz to go back to the well. And that means going back to Varlamov in between the pipes.
Up until his rough outing in game two, Varlamov has been a rock for the Isles in net.
He’s looked extra determined in the team’s run and has let in very few bad goals.
Varlamov has also established a new franchise record for a playoff shutout streak (138:17), passing franchise icon Billy Smith. His goals-against average (1.76) and save percentage (.932) have been outstanding. And he has come up with some timely saves and dynamite performances in the bubble.
Varlamov’s second period performance in game one against the Flyers was also probably his most impressive of the playoffs.
“He’s (Varlamov) backed us up enough,” said captain Anders Lee following yesterday’s game.
— Rob Taub (@RTaub_) August 16, 2020
But there’s more to Varlamov than just the numbers. He’s been a steady presence the few times the Isles have been under fire in the playoffs.
What helps now too is Varlamov has gotten that awful game out of his system and will be motivated to bounce back. Not to mention, he also received some much-needed rest by only playing 15:09 in game two.
If Trotz does tab Greiss this evening, it will definitely come as a surprise. Varlamov has gotten the Isles this far.
The team should go back to him. He’s earned it.