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New York Islanders

Greiss Makes Returns to Long Island, His Best Moments, Franchise Impact



Thomas Greiss stops a shot

It’s hard to believe, but Thursday night will mark the first time former New York Islanders netminder Thomas Greiss is back on Long Island since his departure following the 2019-20 season.

After playing five years as a member of the New York Islanders (2015-2020), Thomas Greiss has been a member of the rebuilding Detroit Red Wings for the last two seasons.

As a member of the Islanders, Greiss posted a 915 SV% with a 2.70 GAA and 10 shutouts in 193 appearances.

In the five seasons on the island, Greiss and the New York Islanders made the playoffs three times, as in 16 postseason games, Greiss owned a .921 SV% with a 2.41 GAA.

After his five-season tenure, Thomas Greiss ranked fifth in New York Islanders history with 193 games played and 101 wins.

Because of the pandemic, the Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings did not meet up in 2020-21. This season, the two sides squared off in Detroit back on Dec. 21, a 4-3 overtime loss. Greiss did not get the start for that game as Alex Nedeljkovich was between the pipes.

Thomas Greiss will start for Detroit Thursday night and there is no question that he will receive a strong reaction from the crowd, as well as a video tribute.

“Greiss was a great teammate. He was a real funny guy,” New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal said. “Funny when we played soccer, he’d always have a little funny comment and even loved having him after practice and whatnot. He took a lot of shots, took a lot of breakaways. The guy’s very unorthodox and that kind of setting so it was really fun having to come up with new stuff, to try to beat him in different ways.”

“So you know, Greiss was a great teammate.”

His best season on the island came back in 2018-19 as Greiss and goaltender Robin Lehner helped the New York Islanders win the Jennings Trophy for the least goals allowed in the NHL (191 goals). That season, Greiss went 23-14-2, with a .927 SV% and a 2.28 GAA.

People forget that Robin Lehner struggled mightily in November, as he lost seven straight contests from Nov. 8 to Dec. 12. However, Greiss went 6-2-1 in his nine November starts to help keep the team in a solid spot.

Although Greiss had some strong regular season performance for the Islanders, his most electrifying moment came in the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. On Apr. 25, 2016, in overtime of Game 5 against the Florida Panthers (series tied 2-2), New York Islanders defenseman Calvin DeHaan closed his hand on the puck in Greiss’s crease, which resulted in a penalty shot.

The Florida Panthers chose elite forward Aleksander Barkov to take the shot.

The Islanders went on to win the game as rookie Alan Quine blasted home a shot past the legend Roberto Luongo in double overtime. John Tavares would send the Islanders to the second round of the postseason for the first time since 1993, as he scored the overtime goal in Game 6.

Greiss’s most memorable regular-season save came on Nov. 1, 2018, as he stoned Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby with the diving poke check in overtime and stopped him in the shootout as well.

The Islanders would win the game in a shootout thanks to a Josh Bailey goal in round three.

Greiss’s last start as an Islanders netminder was not a pretty one, after allowing three goals on nine shots in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning. But his second-to-last start in the blue and orange was a strong one as New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz chose him to start Game 7 against the Philadelphia Flyers over Semyon Varlamov.

Backed by a dominant defensive performance, Thomas Greiss had an easy night as he stopped all 16 shots that came his way to send the Islanders to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Because of Ilya Sorokin’s arrival, Thomas Greiss knew his time with the Islanders was ending following that playoff run. But even though his replacement had joined the Islanders in the bubble, Greiss still helped show Sorokin the ropes.

Drafted 94th overall (3rd round) by the San Jose Sharks back in the 2004 NHL Draft, Greiss played five seasons in California, before a quick stop in Arizona, then Pittsburgh before joining the Islanders in 2015.

After a few strong seasons as a stable NHL backup, Greiss and the New York Islanders agreed on a two-year deal worth $3 million. Following the 2016-2017 season, the Islanders retained Greiss’s skill set as he signed a three-year deal worth $10 million.

The Islanders made the playoffs in 2015, but the Washington Capitals eliminated them in Round One after seven games. The goaltenders that season were starter Jaroslav Halak and backups Michael Neuvirth (and Chad Johnson).

The New York Islanders were a team on the rise. The summer prior, they acquired Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuk to provide some veteran leadership and help create a winning culture, and it paid off as the Islanders made the postseason. But it was a first-round exit after a seven-game series against the Washington Capitals.

Over the next five years, Greiss’s stability helped the Islanders grow from a borderline playoff team to a Stanley Cup contender. Not every season went in the right direction for the Islanders, but there’s no debating the organization’s growth over Greiss’s tenure.

“Well, the great thing about Thomas’s is (that he’s an) awesome, awesome guy,” New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. “I mean, we could go to Thomas in the last minute go ‘last-minute change you’re going in’ and he’d (shrug), okay. And there is nothing that seemed to faze him.”

“He just went with the flow, which is awesome. He’s had terrific years for us here was a big part of our success.”