Apr 18, 2013, 1:24 PM EST
As Brough wrote last week, there is no obvious choice for this year’s Vezina Trophy.
Joe Thornton, though, thinks differently.
The Sharks captain is backing Antti Niemi not just as the best goalie in the NHL — but on the planet.
“You’ve been watching the same as us. He’s been great for a long time,” Thornton told the San Jose Mercury News. “Last night [Tuesday’s 3-2 win over LA] he was great, tonight he was great. Three games ago he was great.
“Every night he gives us a chance to win, and I think he’s the best goalie in the world.”
Jumbo Joe might have a point.
Niemi is enjoying arguably the finest season of his career, leading the NHL in wins (22) while sitting seventh in save percentage (.926) and ninth in GAA (2.12).
Most impressively, he’s done all this as a workhorse, appearing in 39 of San Jose’s 43 games this year.
Only Nashville’s Pekka Rinne (41) has played more games.
The 29-year-old Finn is one of only two goalies with 1,000-plus saves this year (the other is Ryan Miller) and his four shutouts have him one back of league leaders Rinne, Cory Schneider and Mike Smith (all tied with five).
The big question about Niemi’s Vezina candidacy is where he plays.
San Jose often doesn’t drop puck until 10:30 p.m. ET, meaning a lot of voters (in this instance, NHL general managers) don’t get to see him play.
If you don’t think that’s an issue, consider this: Of the last 18 Vezina winners, 17 came from the Eastern Conference. The lone exception was in 2005-06, when Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff won it.
Sharks head coach Todd McLellan says Niemi definitely deserves consideration for this year’s Vezina.
“Nemo deserves to be part of that conversation leaguewide when people begin to talk about potential candidates for those awards,” McLellan said. “His numbers speak for themselves.”
Mar 1, 2015, 11:33 AM EST
Anaheim readies for a road-heavy March.
Mar 1, 2015, 10:17 AM EST
Three of his season’s six goals came in the last three games.
Mar 1, 2015, 9:35 AM EST
The first-round pick was a little too rich, it seems.
Mar 1, 2015, 1:37 AM EST
They’ll play again on March 8.
Mar 1, 2015, 1:03 AM EST
San Jose completed its disastrous month with a loss to Ottawa.
Mar 1, 2015, 12:42 AM EST
In other words, he’s probably not going to be dealt before the trade deadline.
Feb 28, 2015, 11:52 PM EST
The Coyotes might not be done dealing yet.
Feb 28, 2015, 11:11 PM EST
Steve Mason was solid in his first start since undergoing knee surgery.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:41 PM EST
He’s continuing to make his case for the art Trophy.
Feb 28, 2015, 10:12 PM EST
Chicago also added Kimmo Timonen on Friday.
Feb 28, 2015, 9:24 PM EST
Stakes are high for Philadelphia after Boston and Florida won.
Feb 28, 2015, 8:50 PM EST
His leadership and the confidence that he brings might provide Florida with a big boost.
Feb 28, 2015, 8:24 PM EST
Arizona is threatening to drop to 29th in the NHL, which would be big as far as the draft lottery is concerned.
Feb 28, 2015, 7:51 PM EST
Philadelphia is trying to salvage its bid for a playoff spot.
Feb 28, 2015, 7:37 PM EST
A recent report suggests that Boston is interested.
Feb 28, 2015, 6:55 PM EST
He’s been released from the hospital.
Feb 28, 2015, 6:02 PM EST
Alexey Marchenko scored his first career goal.
Feb 28, 2015, 5:34 PM EST
That gives some teams extra roster flexibility.
Feb 28, 2015, 4:45 PM EST
Was injured on a hit from Seth Jones.
Feb 28, 2015, 4:15 PM EST
He’s been the subject of trade rumors lately.
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