Apr 18, 2013, 1:24 PM EDT
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 14, 2014, 12:39 PM EDT
His second in the last 12 months.
Mar 14, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT
Is New Jersey coach Pete DeBoer headed for another big disappointment?
Mar 14, 2014, 12:18 PM EDT
Yet another tough blow for Vancouver.
Mar 14, 2014, 12:07 PM EDT
21-year-old Johan Sundstrom is set to make his NHL debut vs. San Jose.
Mar 14, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT
Tuukka at the top.
Mar 14, 2014, 11:42 AM EDT
Looks like no Horcoff, Eakin or Lehtonen in a key battle for playoff positioning.
Mar 14, 2014, 11:06 AM EDT
Back-to-back games for Pittsburgh and Philly.
Mar 14, 2014, 9:50 AM EDT
They surprised a lot of people by giving up a second round pick to acquire him from Calgary.
Mar 14, 2014, 8:56 AM EDT
The severity of his injury isn’t known yet.
Mar 14, 2014, 8:03 AM EDT
Friday’s collection of links.
Mar 14, 2014, 1:31 AM EDT
Quite the position the goalie found himself in.
Mar 14, 2014, 12:27 AM EDT
St. Louis overpowered Edmonton in the third period.
Mar 13, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT
Mar 13, 2014, 11:16 PM EDT
But Buffalo still loses.
Mar 13, 2014, 10:36 PM EDT
Also, his first goal since March 2, 2010.
Mar 13, 2014, 10:04 PM EDT
We’ve seen this many times before.
Mar 13, 2014, 9:47 PM EDT
Big save late in the third period.
Mar 13, 2014, 9:09 PM EDT
Former Blue notches his 25th of the year.
Mar 13, 2014, 7:54 PM EDT
“They’re all over the place.”
Mar 13, 2014, 7:10 PM EDT
He leads all Bruins defensemen in scoring.
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- Here are the top 10 and bottom 10 goalies in even-strength save percentage 9
- Weekend preview: Flyers-Pens rivalry renewed, Bruins look to stay hot 9
- Video: Stamkos scores first goal since returning to Lightning lineup 4
- Sedin backs Tortorella and staff: ‘We love playing for these coaches’ 25
- Here are three ‘major changes’ the NHL should consider 97
- Callahan: I wanted to stay in New York 37
- Playoff bubble watch — Wild edition 18
- Video: Ryan Kesler injured on knee-on-knee collision, on his way back to Vancouver 12
- Discuss: Bruins run over Habs in newest chapter of historic rivalry 26
- Here are three ‘major changes’ the NHL should consider (97)
- Chiasson ‘shaken up’ by Peverley incident, won’t dress for Stars tonight (74)
- Steve Moore remains shocked, disgusted about Todd Bertuzzi attack (73)
- ‘It’s obvious Tortorella can’t come back next year,’ writes Vancouver reporter (62)
- Video: Dryden on why hockey should ‘give up the fighting, but keep the fight’ (57)