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 24, 2014, 9:06 AM EDT
The Wild center becomes a restricted free agent after this season.
Oct 24, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
With time off in Calgary, players participate in team building event.
Oct 24, 2014, 2:04 AM EDT
Scott Hartnell’s four assists included a wondrous “kick-pass.”
Oct 24, 2014, 1:35 AM EDT
His 33rd goose egg breaks a brief tie with Rogie Vachon.
Oct 24, 2014, 1:14 AM EDT
This one didn’t come against Colorado, either.
Oct 24, 2014, 12:50 AM EDT
They’ll also have a tribute to Nathan Cirillo.
Oct 24, 2014, 12:49 AM EDT
Chris Kelly calls him “irreplaceable.”
Oct 24, 2014, 12:07 AM EDT
Grim times for Carolina.
Oct 23, 2014, 11:33 PM EDT
The Bruins haven’t confirmed or denied the dire update.
Oct 23, 2014, 11:29 PM EDT
Is “revenge” too strong of a word for it?
Oct 23, 2014, 10:44 PM EDT
Pekka Rinne wasn’t too shabby, either.
Oct 23, 2014, 10:22 PM EDT
Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Niklas Kronwall made it happen.
Oct 23, 2014, 9:33 PM EDT
Bad update for the Islanders.
Oct 23, 2014, 8:14 PM EDT
Was it the big hit he landed on John Tavares?
Oct 23, 2014, 7:43 PM EDT
Might be for the best.
Oct 23, 2014, 7:18 PM EDT
He’s hoping no one drops the gloves with Jordan tonight.
Oct 23, 2014, 6:25 PM EDT
Winnipeg’s offense could use the power forward.
Oct 23, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT
Colorado could really use a win.
Oct 23, 2014, 4:46 PM EDT
“Mirco’s not going anywhere.”
Oct 23, 2014, 3:36 PM EDT
And it’s a pretty impressive projected top six.
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