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.”
Oct 22, 2014, 2:15 AM EDT
“We’re not sharp mentally.”
Oct 22, 2014, 1:40 AM EDT
Wonder if the Devils fan behind him was a face-painter?
Oct 22, 2014, 1:11 AM EDT
Had the lead going into the third period.
Oct 22, 2014, 12:35 AM EDT
Do a little dance. Make some big saves. Shut out tonight.
Oct 21, 2014, 11:56 PM EDT
Toronto took this one over in the second period.
Oct 21, 2014, 11:28 PM EDT
Is a call from the league next?
Oct 21, 2014, 10:54 PM EDT
David Desharnais with his first of the season.
Oct 21, 2014, 10:17 PM EDT
No call on that play.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:50 PM EDT
It’s gone from bad to worse for Vancouver.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT
Happened on an innocent enough play.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:29 PM EDT
Outplayed Philly big time in first period.
Oct 21, 2014, 9:07 PM EDT
Bet that felt good.
Oct 21, 2014, 8:27 PM EDT
Thought to be in against Chicago, but no.
Oct 21, 2014, 8:15 PM EDT
NHL Insider analyzes what the future has in store for the L.A. defenseman.
Oct 21, 2014, 7:07 PM EDT
Check it out via the NBC Live Extra stream.
Oct 21, 2014, 6:42 PM EDT
“Nathan is a frustrated kid right now. He’s in constant pain.”
Oct 21, 2014, 6:18 PM EDT
After watching the first five games of the season from the press box.
Oct 21, 2014, 5:25 PM EDT
‘Canes the only winless team in the league.
Oct 21, 2014, 4:30 PM EDT
For example, a really tough upcoming schedule. (But also goaltending and that defense.)
Oct 21, 2014, 3:43 PM EDT
“It’s adversity for us but we’re going to come through it,” says Jarrett Stoll.
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