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.”
Jul 24, 2014, 4:42 PM EDT
The Canucks selected him with one of the picks they got from the Ryan Kesler trade.
Jul 24, 2014, 3:31 PM EDT
The two sides managed to avoid arbitration despite a $1.45 million gap on a one-year deal.
Jul 24, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
Alternately known as “the guy Boston got for Vladimir Sobotka.”
Jul 24, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT
Journeyman split last season between the Rangers and Penguins.
Jul 24, 2014, 1:20 PM EDT
Offensive d-man led all Colorado blueliners in goals last year, with 13.
Jul 24, 2014, 12:22 PM EDT
He’s likely to be the No. 3 goalie in New York this year.
Jul 24, 2014, 11:26 AM EDT
Former Colorado bench boss and Massachusetts native returns home.
Jul 24, 2014, 10:28 AM EDT
With the Wild and ‘Canes, respectively.
Jul 24, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
“Maybe it just wasn’t our time yet,” Patrick Roy said.
Jul 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Thursday’s assortment of links.
Jul 23, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Makes sense for a franchise that frequently favors puck possession.
Jul 23, 2014, 10:00 PM EDT
Can the STAR system help reduce concussions?
Jul 23, 2014, 9:00 PM EDT
They’ll feature a “skating-only” ice crew next season.
Jul 23, 2014, 7:53 PM EDT
The crash happened on Monday, according to reports.
Jul 23, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT
Will their latest physics improvements make a big difference?
Jul 23, 2014, 5:50 PM EDT
Can they make a compromise by Friday?
Jul 23, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT
“We’ll see what happens. It’s a couple years away.”
Jul 23, 2014, 2:50 PM EDT
Jim Benning, making deals.
Jul 23, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
“Any of the perceived animosity came from the outside.”
Jul 23, 2014, 12:57 PM EDT
His previously “yet-to-be-determined capacity” has been determined.
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