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‘He’s not tired’: McLellan shoots down talk of Niemi being overworked

Nov 8, 2013, 6:02 PM EDT

Antti Niemi AP

Antti Niemi has been one of the NHL’s busiest goalies this year but, according to Sharks head coach Todd McLellan, that’s not the reason for his recent struggles.

“Nope. Nope. Not at all,” McLellan told CSN Bay Area when asked about the possibility of Niemi, second among all NHL goalies in time on ice, being overworked. “The interesting part about Nemo is the most rest he’s had, has been in the last 10 days, and he hasn’t been as sharp.

“As soon as Alex [Stalock] played [on Oct. 27 in Ottawa], Nemo had a couple days off, [we] come back into LA, not as sharp. We haven’t been playing every second day, so I think the exact opposite of what you’re suggesting. Exact opposite.”

Niemi, a Vezina nominee last year, won his first six starts of the season and was 9-1-1 following a 2-0 shutout of Montreal on Oct. 26.

But as McLellan mentioned, that’s when things went south.

Following last night’s 4-2 loss in Vancouver — a game in which he was hooked early in the second in favor of Stalock — Niemi found himself mired in a four-game stretch where he’s gone 0-1-3 with a 4.09 GAA and .842 save percentage. Unsurprisingly, his struggles have led to San Jose struggling, as the Sharks have lost five of their last six (though they’ve only failed to secure points in two of them.)

The overworked theory doesn’t hold much weight when you consider what Niemi’s done the last two years. In 2013, he tied for the league lead in starts (43) and finished third in shots faced, with 1220. Yet he still managed to finish with outstanding numbers (24-12-6, 2.16 GAA, .924 save percentage) and earn his first-ever Vezina nomination.

The year prior, Niemi made 68 starts and racked up 34 wins. Again, workload was not a problem.

“He’s working on his game,” McLellan said. “All of a sudden, he’s starting to not be as involved as he normally is.

“He’s not tired. I can tell you that.”

  1. vbcaps - Nov 8, 2013 at 6:28 PM

    He’s a solid goaltender and a Stanley cup champion

    I would think it has more to do with the fact that its almost impossible to keep the winning pace the sharks were on and this is just part of the ebb and flows of a 82 game season

    • ethanmacleod1685 - Nov 8, 2013 at 6:44 PM

      Exactly !

  2. skr213 - Nov 8, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Nemo is streaky, it’s that simple. Sharks fans just have to hope he’s on the right side of that equation in the Spring. It’s also hard to not notice that the current losing streak coincides with Burns’ absence.

  3. ethanmacleod1685 - Nov 8, 2013 at 6:45 PM

    So basically he’s saying that he’s not tired but he certainly looks it

  4. mrpinkca - Nov 8, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    Fear the Fin pointed out last night he has a .903 SV% in the past 7 games which is still .001 better than Jon Quick in past 2 regular seasons.

  5. sjsharks66 - Nov 8, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Nemo has not been as solid as he usually is in net. With that said, the entire sharks team has not been solid the past 5 games.

    Snap out of it boys, get a regulation win!

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