SAN JOSE Thomas Greiss is making the most of his opportunity as the Sharks backup goaltender.
The German native, who entered Thursday's game just 2:07 after the opening faceoff, stopped 29 of 30 shots in relief of Antti Niemi on Thursday night. His performance allowed his team to climb back into the game and eventually overtake the Penguins in a shootout, 4-3. It was Greiss' third victory of the year (3-2), and he owns an impressive stat line featuring a 1.99 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.
But, it might not be enough to earn him another start on Saturday night against Nashville.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan explained his thought process on Friday after the teams practice at Sharks Ice.
There are two trains of thought. One is to reward Greiss for coming in and playing well, and the other thought process is to get Niemi back in there and get him going, said the coach. Well have to make a decision later on today which route well go.
If Niemi had a choice, he would get back out there right away.
Of course its easier to get back soon and not wait for a long time, he said. Then you start thinking about it.
McLellan thought Niemi could have better played the first goal against the Penguins. On the play, the goaltender lost control of his stick and allowed a soft shot from the Penguins Deryk Engelland to get by.
I didnt think he was sharp on the first goal. Lost his stick, deep in his net, that type of stuff. But, he knows that. Im not telling you anything that he doesnt know, said McLellan. He worked hard today, and will be ready to go, if we choose to.
In Niemis defense, changing the goaltender so early in the game can be seen as more than just a reflection upon his play. In fact, many times its not an indicator of the goaltender at all, but a coach just trying to change the pace and momentum of the game. A wake-up call, if you will.
McLellan said that if he could have, he would have pulled our whole team. It just so happens that Niemi plays the one position where its easy to make a switch.
Thats the one position where you can make a change, and they never get to go back out on the ice and make amends, said McLellan. Were down 2-0 two minutes in, weve got to do something.
Its not a surprise after how many minutes we played and it was 2-0, said Niemi.
Greiss, with his easygoing personality, is taking everything in stride. Of course hed like to play, but he still seems more than content to contribute when hes called upon.
Im just trying to play as good as I can every game, and help the team anyway I can, he said.