Jun 10, 2010, 1:15 AM EDT
We all questioned him, admit it.
When the Chicago Blackhawks made the public decision to not go after a
goaltender at the trade deadline and to instead stick with Cristobal
Huet and Antti Niemi, we panned the Hawks and said they were bonkers.
There was no way this team could win the Stanley Cup with either of
those two goaltenders in net.
I guess we were wrong, huh?
Niemi may not have been the most stellar example of Stanley Cup
goaltending against the Hawks, but through four rounds he was exactly
what his team needed him to be. He was steady, he was consistent and on
occasion he stole a game or two with some absolutely outstanding
Tonight against the Flyers, he may not have been at his very best but
he made the big saves when they matter most.
Now, he’s the first Finnish goaltender to lead his team to the
Stanley Cup and he did it as a rookie. Before this season, he was never
expected to be this important to the Blackhawks but when he was called
upon he approached the task like he always does: calm, collected and
Every player on his team says that no one works harder than Niemi,
that nothing ever seems to rattle him. He’s not an emotional goaltender,
and his ability to bounce back from bad games is perhaps one of the
best reasons the Hawks ultimately won it all.
“So many tough
moments, and even from Game 1 of our first series against Nashville,
people question you every single game as a rookie goaltender,” Jonathan
Toews said after the game when asked about his goaltender. “Everyone
knows how big of a position, how important it is to have a great
goaltender in the postseason. Everyone questioned his experience and
his ability to deal with that pressure.”
Still, Toews says he
never lost faith in Niemi even through the ups and downs of the season
and the playoffs.
“But I think we all believed in him. We all
knew he was that type of guy. And all the accolades on good days that
were thrown at him didn’t seem to bother him either. He just kept
playing, enjoyed the game and was a huge, huge part of our team.”
- Holtby outduels Lundqvist as Caps take series lead 31
- WATCH LIVE: Rangers at Capitals 3
- Red Wings’ Devellano calls Mantha ‘very, very, very disappointing’ 52
- End of an era in New Jersey as Shero replaces Lamoriello as GM 25
- Once again, Rick Nash isn’t scoring in the playoffs 24
- Video: U.S. stays unbeaten at Worlds with win over defending champs Russia 9
- Andersen shuts out Flames as Ducks stay perfect in playoffs 6
- Wild can’t contain ‘Hawks star forwards in Game 2 43
- Prust blasts referee Watson after getting tossed from Game 2 29
- Stamkos, power play comes alive as Lightning take 2-0 series lead vs. Habs 29
- Niklas Kronwall suspended for Game 7 vs. Tampa Bay (116)
- Vigneault: ‘Standards have been set’ after Ovechkin, Backstrom hits (103)
- Lightning’s Bishop silences Red Wings in hard fought Game 7 (81)
- Babcock won’t discuss future yet, but sees challenges ahead for Wings (78)
- ‘You can’t win,’ ex-NHL ref Fraser says of Prust incident (77)