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2010 Stanley Cup Finals: We should never have doubted Antti Niemi

Jun 10, 2010, 1:15 AM EDT

Niemi10.jpgWe 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
performances.

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
determined.

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.”

  1. jef - Jun 10, 2010 at 1:56 AM

    F you!
    Niemi stoned the Sharks, and Vancouver. He was HUGE! Massive save after massive save.
    Hawks win!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Robert - Jun 10, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Niemi is an average goaltender with some awesome D lines in front of him, they saved him numerous times. But there were just as many times that he looked soft. Since his team won the Cup, of course that’s going to make it seem like he’s great in goal, but he’s really only average.

  3. James - Jun 10, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    There is a goalie that is in the Hall of Fame, won five Stanley Cups, had a career average of 3.38 GAA and played just about the same way that Niemi did in the Finals…he’d let a few in, but he could occasionally steal a game and he came up with the big stop when his team needed to have it. His name is Grant Fuhr.

  4. Rob - Jun 10, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    Here’s one more for all you Flyers fan. 1975. May the drought continue forever.
    http://images.tsn.ca/images/stories/2010/6/10/101935049-430×296.jpg

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