If New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz knows who he is going to name his starting goaltender for Game 1 against the Florida Panthers, he wasn’t sharing it on Monday.
The Islanders bench boss did acknowledge that the two goaltenders will both receive playing time on Wednesday when the Islanders face the New York Rangers in an exhibition game. It has been a lingering question since camp opened earlier this month over who would get the nod to start the playoffs.
Both netminders have had their successes against Florida. Greiss backstopped the Islanders to wins over Florida on Nov. 9 and Dec. 12, allowing just two goals between the two games.
Varlamov made 35 saves in a 3-2 win for the Islanders.
“You look at their records against our opponent in Florida, they’re both pretty solid,” Trotz said during a Zoom call on Monday. “They’re both pretty solid. There’s not much between them in terms of save percentage, in terms of wins, all that. I don’t think I could make a bad decision.”
Depending on who you ask, Varlamov is the expected favorite to at least start in Game 1. He has started 10 more games than Greiss and finished the year with a 19-14-6 record. In 39 starts Varlamov had a 2.62 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage.
Varlamov is also 8-3-1 lifetime against Florida.
Greiss went 16-9-4 during the regular season and held a 2.73 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage. Of course, for those who would like to see Greiss in the net, there is always his 2016 playoff performance against Florida to harken back to as well.
While the question remains about who will get the Game 1 nod, what doesn’t seem to be in doubt is how much Wednesday’s exhibition game will impact that decision.
“Will it impact? A little bit for sure,” Trotz said. “I think I’m pretty close to making a decision. I really can’t make a bad decision. I have trust in both of them.”