The Phoenix Coyotes sent a major message to the rest of the league on Tuesday - don't count us out. Most analysts had already stamped the Coyote's ticket to the offseason. Why wouldn't they? The Coyotes have been playing with fire lately, particularly with their inability to play a full 60 minutes of hockey. After blowing leads to both Boston and New York, not to mention losing their star goalie, it seemed like the wheels were starting to fall off. Thomas Greiss wasn't listening to any of those pundits. He came out on Tuesday night and gave an inspiring performance that might have lit a fire under the gritty Phoenix team. There were quite a few fans who were sad to see Jason LaBarbara leave during last offseason's free agency, but the pickup of Thomas Greiss seems like yet another one of the many tricks that Don Maloney can pull out of his sleeve. Aside from Sharks and Coyotes fans, not many people have ever heard of Thomas Greiss. Let's take a look at his career statistics:
The numbers don't lie: Greiss has the potential to make the transition to a starting goalie. His SV% and GAA numbers have consistently remained high. On top of that, he has shown that he can post shutouts. In fact, despite his limited starts, Greiss posted a the Coyotes first shutout of the season - a feat which came relatively far into the year. While there were certainly fans in Phoenix who mourned the loss of LaBarbara, the Coyotes should be praising the hockey gods for giving them such a solid backup netminder. Remember that Mike Smith had never earned a starting job either before he was brought into the desert. Perhaps it's the work of Phoenix's goalie coach Sean Burke, or perhaps Maloney just knows how to pick the diamonds in the rough. Either way, the Coyotes lucked out and appear to still be in the thick of the playoff hunt. Depending on the extent of Smith's injury, the dual threat of a Smith/Greiss combo in net could prove to be a significant playoff advantage. The table has been set in front of Greiss. Now is his chance to step up and prove that he is worthy of a starting job in the NHL.