In the hockey equivalent of reading the fine print and finding out one of your Christmas presents is missing a crucial component, the Islanders will return from their week-long holiday break without starting goalie Jaroslav Halak, who was placed on injured reserve today with an upper body injury.
The IR stint is retroactive to December 21st, so Halak could probably come off of it earlier than next week. At yesterday's practice, Halak was listed as "day-to-day" along with Kyle Okposo, who missed two games with a lower body injury before the break. This morning, the team made it official, putting Halak on the shelf for a bit and, it appears, getting Okposo back for tonight.
That means Thomas Greiss will start this evening's game against the Maple Leafs and possibly Tuesday's rematch in Toronto. Greiss (9-4-2, .933 sv%) and Halak (10-6-3, .923 sv%) have combined to give the Islanders their best goaltending tandem (or any goaltending tandem) since the days of Billy Smith and Kelly Hrudey*. This is the second time this year that Greiss has had to take the reigns for an injured Halak. He previously went 2-0-1 in the first week of the season.
To backup Greiss, the Islanders recalled Christopher Gibson from Bridgeport. Acquired along with 45 other prospects for Michael Grabner before the season, Gibson's done alright for himself with the Sound Tigers, going 11-5-3 with two shutouts. Also, today is his birthday.
Christopher Gibson and his .945 December save percentage go up for the injured Jaroslav Halak. Parker Milner comes here from Missouri. #BST— Michael Fornabaio (@fornabaioctp) December 27, 2015
Jean-Francios Berube, who backed up Greiss earlier this season after being picked up on waivers from Los Angeles as Halak Injury Insurance is on IR himself in the AHL.
The Islanders have games every other day this week then a back-to-back next weekend. They twice play the Leafs, and spend New Year's Eve in Buffalo before facing the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Saturday and those high-flying Dallas Stars in Brooklyn on Sunday.
Greiss has shown he's capable of holding things down for a while, but let's hope a healthy Halak is back for that formidable first weekend in January.
* - this is probably wrong, but I don't often find a chance to slip a Kelly Hrudey reference into any story.