The Phoenix Coyotes won their third game of the season on Friday night, and their second in a row. The story here wasn’t necessarily the fact that they did win, but how they got the win. The two points for the Coyotes came behind the play of backup netminder Thomas Greiss.
The Coyotes brought Greiss in during the offseason on a one-year contract. Greiss never had the largest of opportunities to succeed with the San Jose Sharks, despite coming up as a prospect with pretty good upside. He came to the desert as the replacement for backup goaltender Jason LaBarbera.
While LaBarbera may have been a bit of a fan favorite, and was well liked in the Phoenix locker room, he definitely wasn’t the most quality of backups. He only made a handful of starts in each season, and every outing seemed to be an adventure. Which led to Mike Smith being among the league leaders in starts in 2011-12, and he likely would have been again in 2013 if not for injury.
The addition of Greiss should make plenty of difference for the likes of Smith and the Coyotes. Greiss’ numbers prior to joining the club were not overly impressive, but the sample size was also very small. Having a guy like that around has benefits for all parties involved. Smith can get a bit more rest and remain fresh for a potential postseason berth.
The Coyotes don’t have to worry about the state of their team when Smith needs a night off, whether just getting a rest or out with an injury. Greiss shut down Philadelphia on Friday night. If that’s an indication of what he can do, this is going to be a very fruitful relationship.
Who knows? A strong season for Greiss, since he is only in on a one-year pact, could lead to him getting an opportunity to start somewhere next season. Regardless of how that situation transpires, there’s no doubt that having a capable backup, who is a significant upgrade from LaBarbera, will pay dividends for the Coyotes.