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.”
Jan 31, 2015, 2:00 AM EST
Anaheim has now lost two straight in regulation for the first time since November.
Jan 31, 2015, 1:15 AM EST
Sabres conclude January with an 0-12-0 record.
Jan 31, 2015, 12:15 AM EST
Shattenkirk had the shootout winner.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:35 PM EST
He’s now tied with Dino Ciccarelli on the all-time points list.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:00 PM EST
Kris Letang has assisted on Pittsburgh’s last seven goals.
Jan 30, 2015, 10:15 PM EST
Mark Hunter has also been a rumored replacement.
Jan 30, 2015, 9:30 PM EST
He’s a restricted free agent after this season.
Jan 30, 2015, 8:45 PM EST
The 18-year-old is playing in his 3rd career AHL game tonight.
Jan 30, 2015, 8:00 PM EST
Was 6-0-0 in his previous seven appearances entering tonight.
Jan 30, 2015, 7:05 PM EST
It could happen at the World Cup though.
Jan 30, 2015, 5:16 PM EST
“We would be thrilled to have them play at our venue.”
Jan 30, 2015, 4:24 PM EST
Ville Pokka is a fun name.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:57 PM EST
Spent last season in Buffalo.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:37 PM EST
Oklahoma City and Worcester do not.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:26 PM EST
Key Western Conference tilt tonight at Honda.
Jan 30, 2015, 2:48 PM EST
Not that that’s likely. Just…possible.
Jan 30, 2015, 2:17 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Jan 30, 2015, 1:01 PM EST
Xavier Ouellet sticking around?
Jan 30, 2015, 12:52 PM EST
Pittsburgh d-man won’t play tonight against New Jersey.
Jan 30, 2015, 12:39 PM EST
They play in Vancouver tonight.
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