Stop me if you’ve heard this before. The Islanders have an important game coming up and head coach Barry Trotz is faced with a conundrum. Does he start Semyon Varlamov in net or give Thomas Greiss a shot at his second start of the postseason?
Well, that’s the dilemma that Trotz once again faces in Game 7. The Islanders watched a 3-1 series lead disappear after falling in back to back games in overtime to the Philadelphia Flyers. The man in net both of those games was Varlamov.
Now with Game 7 here, Trotz has to decide whether to give the man who helped get the Islanders within a win of their first trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 27 years another shot or change things up late in the series.
Trotz has said he trusts both goalies and admitted the circumstances would be easier if they had one guy they turned to.
“Part of coaching is getting a feel for where guys are,” Trotz said. “Where they are in terms of their game. In terms of their life. In terms of their energy. All that is getting a feel for it.”
The Islanders series with the Flyers has tested Varlamov more so than any of the previous ones. Varlamov was pulled in Game 2 after surrendering three goals in the first period and then allowed nine goals on 63 shots in Game 5 and Game 6 combined.
On the flip side, Varlamov has been stellar in other moments, shutting out the Flyers in Game 1 and then stopped 26 shots in a 3-1 Islanders win in Game 3.
The decision is only made harder by the fact that Greiss has been exactly what the Islanders have needed in net when called upon. Through two games this postseason Greiss has 56 saves on 59 shots and a 1.68 goals-against average. His save percentage sits at .949 entering Game 7.
“I think every player believes in both of our goalies,” Jean-Gabriel Pageau said. “They’re both really good. They’ve been really good all season and in the playoffs they’ve both done an awesome job. Whoever is in the net we know is going to do the job. But we have to do the job in front of them too.”
The Islanders have managed to limit the Flyers shots for most of the series, but Philadelphia has managed to take advantage of mistakes made by New York, especially in Game 6. Three of the Flyers four regulation goals were scored off an Islanders turnover on Thursday night.
How much the low volume of shots impacted Varlamov’s ability to make those stops is unclear.
What is clear is that the choice in front of Trotz won’t be an easy one and will be dissected to death depending on the outcome of Game 7.
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.