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How many more starts should Niemi get?

Mar 10, 2012, 7:09 PM EDT

Antti Niemi Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks have 16 games left in their schedule, including their Saturday night contest against the Phoenix Coyotes. As they fight for a playoff spot, one of the questions that they have to ask is how much they should lean on Antti Niemi. Should they give him the occasional game off to keep him rested in the hope that they’re still playing after April 7? Or should we be looking at the issue from an entirely different perspective? CSN’s Kevin Kurz thinks that the more often Niemi plays, the better he gets, and he’s not alone.

“I think we’ve proven that point again. In the phase where we had that real long travel trip and had the three back-to-backs, and he didn’t play as often,” Todd McLellan said. “[It] was probably his weakest point during the season.”

Contrast that with Niemi’s impressive 2.05 GAA and .929 save percentage over 34 straight starts during the second half of the 2010-11 campaign.

The San Jose Sharks have lost four straight games with Niemi between the pipes, but he has a 2.18 GAA and .920 save percentage over that span. The larger problem lately has been San Jose’s offense.

Thomas Greiss has been great this season, but sticking with Niemi might be their best bet moving forward.

  1. xxakshunxx - Mar 10, 2012 at 8:03 PM

    When you watch the sharks you can see Niemi isn’t the clear problem.. He’s never going to be a top 5 goaltender in the league but he’s good enough to win.. The problem is the offense and the lack of grit and hustle on this team.. They expect to just coast into the playoffs and aren’t playing like they deserve it

    • finfan88shark - Mar 10, 2012 at 11:08 PM

      It is not the lack of grit, it is the lack of vision by the GM, and coaching by the coach. It is a system that encourages players to shoot from anywhere, and hope like hell the shots go in. When you take 40 shots but 25 are from bad angles or parameter shots your just fooling yourselves.

      I do agree with your basic premise however. I still do not see how a GM would trade away two 30 goal scorers and replace them with a guy who is always hurt and a bad defense man, and think your team is better. And heck lets throw in our only legitimate forward prospect and a draft pick as well. And then trade away a draft pick you got in the trade for a bum such as Dominik Moore. Really the problems with this team are exactly as gbiscottagecheesefatties described. And they begin and end with the GM, who acquired the players and hired the coach.

  2. gbiscottagecheesefatties - Mar 10, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    the problem is their choices in trades and trading the future away thinking this was a contending team….. NOPE.

    this team is going to be terrible very soon. They have zero prospects and everyone is getting old except Logan. Good luck Shark fans, rebuild in three years

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Mar 11, 2012 at 10:41 PM

      Pretty sure they blew it by throwing Seto and Coyle to the Wild. Here’s to hoping Charlie and Granlund make it up next year. The Wild have a bright future ahead of them.

  3. vismund11 - Mar 10, 2012 at 10:01 PM

    Who cares aboutthis story? Where’s the post about Bryz getting another shutout and owning Phil Kessel all night, and Claude GIroux absolutely stealing Gustavsonn’s soul?

  4. finfan88shark - Mar 10, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    As a person who has held season Sharks season tickets off and on for 15 years, and as a fan who is soon to be an ex-season ticket holder. Cottagecheesefatties is right on with his evaluation of the situation in San Jose.

    The Sharks have absolutely no prospects, few draft choices and unless they make a couple of smart moves in free agency and in trades they have little future for a long time.

    Unfortunately, nobody in the San Jose Media market knows anything about hockey, and they just fall in lock stock and barrel with the Sharks high powered PR team. We have a “Insider” who actually thought that Doug Wilson made great moves in the off-season and in-season. And we have a beat writer who stated in the pre-season that “This is the best Sharks team ever”. The only media guy who ever talked bad about the Sharks was a guy from Hockey Buzz named Ryan Garner. Garner tried too tell people the last two years what was going on but he was blasted by fans, and then banned by the big bad Sharks organization because he was “too negative.”

    • gbiscottagecheesefatties - Mar 11, 2012 at 4:20 AM

      I feel bad for you guys because you had great talent, just the wrong talent…. if that makes any sense. Thornton is the problem weather people want to admit it or not.

      Sharks fans are great and that’s tough due to their location (kids don’t play hockey compared to baseball or football) and it’s fair to say the success of this team over the last 10 years helped grow the popularity…

      As a Wild fan I think the trade for Burns ruined the long term success for the Sharks. Setoguchi isn’t a prized player to have but can be a good asset on a good team but losing their first and Coyle (Coyle is a beast) REALLY hurts this team. Burns is a good player but far from game changing like some think. He gives up two chances for everyone he creates. I love Burns but speaking the truth.

      again, good luck and I feel for ya!

  5. AlohaMrHand - Mar 11, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    the Sharks look defeated.They aren’t going to the playoffs and it might be time to get rid of some of the liabilities on this team.(I’m looking at YOU Thornton)

  6. letsgosjsharks - Mar 11, 2012 at 7:44 PM

    Im gonna laugh at ALL of you when they comeback and win the cup! Dont lose hope u fair weather fans

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