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Antti Up: Sharks go back to Niemi for Game 7

Apr 30, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

The San Jose Sharks have taken a page out of the Vancouver Canucks’ goaltending playbook.

(The playoff edition, not the one on how to handle having two No. 1s. That one was terrible.)

In a move eerily similar to Vancouver’s three years ago, the Sharks will give Antti Niemi the start tonight, at home, in Game 7, after he was parked for Game 6 and watched the opposition rally from an 0-3 deficit to even the series at three.

Niemi, held out of Monday’s 4-1 loss to the Kings in favor of Alex Stalock, will now return to the goal much like Roberto Luongo did in the opening round of the ’11 playoffs. Like the current-day Sharks, those Canucks raced out to a 3-0 series lead on Chicago, only to lose three straight — with Luongo getting benched in favor of Cory Schneider in Game 6.

If there’s a bright spot in the narrative for San Jose, it’s this: Luongo stopped 31 of 32 shots in Game 7 as the Canucks beat the ‘Hawks in OT.

The Sharks will need Niemi to put up a similar performance tonight if they hope to avoid the biggest postseason collapse in franchise history. Only three teams in NHL history have rallied from an 0-3 deficit to win the series — the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 1975 New York Islanders and the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers — and based on how the L.A. offense has been clicking lately, the Kings carry all the momentum into tonight.

Los Angeles has scored 13 goals in the last three games and caught fire on the power play, scoring five times with the man advantage in the last four games. That offensive explosion is a big reason why Niemi goes into Game 7 with very mediocre numbers — a 3.90 GAA and .882 save percentage.

The only goalie with weaker numbers these playoffs? Tampa Bay’s Anders Lindback, who was yanked twice in a four-game sweep against Montreal.

  1. tronn25 - Apr 30, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Great choice SHARKS! This guy is going to get lit up like a christmas tree. ZERO confidence. Stalock will probably get to relieve him by the end of the first.

    • gohawks7 - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      Doesn’t matter who the goalie is if SJ doesn’t drop their purses and play some playoff type hockey….bunch of damn pansies.

  2. sjsharks66 - Apr 30, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    We will see about that. Always a chance Quick lets 7 by him again. Both teams have hit their lowest in this series. Now it’s time for a team to do it again tonight.

    GO SHARKS!!!

  3. cybernetikghost - Apr 30, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    He’s the number one guy, I think it makes sense. It would look desperate if they went into a game 7 and started their backup for the second straight time. Niemi had his time to sit and recalibrate.

    • pantherpro - Apr 30, 2014 at 2:20 PM

      Sharks please shut up the Johnny come lately Kings fan! You didn’t even know you had a team until three years ago

      The Cup coming to SJ

      • cybernetikghost - Apr 30, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        Am I the “Johnny come lately kings fan”? Cause I was here for the 8 years that they didn’t even make the playoffs. Other than that, I’m not going to try to defend myself and make it seem like a message on a forum means anything in my view of myself as a fan.

      • ron05342 - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:14 PM

        Yeah, pretty much a bonehead statement. I must be one of those johnny-come-lately’s too…been following the team since 1967. Or, about 24 years before the Sharks were born.

        This seems to be a common theme among Sharks’ fans, that Kings’ fans are somehow “bandwaggoners.” It’s moronic, and considering that the first bay area team (California Golden Seals) failed miserably there, the truth of who is a “bandwaggoner” geographic area might be due north.

  4. joey4id - Apr 30, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    This is the correct choice. If you’re going to go down you want to go down with the #1 goalie. If anything Sharks should have started Niemi in game 6.

  5. penszone757 - Apr 30, 2014 at 2:00 PM

    What a mess this situation is. They probably should have stuck with him in game 6 and sat him down this game if they would have lost. At the very least Niemi will have the crowd behind him for the start of the game. If the Sharks blow this series, they need to blow this team up even though they just gave out new contracts like this team has accomplished so much in the past.

  6. sjsharks66 - Apr 30, 2014 at 2:17 PM

    Penszone,

    I agree if they blow this, they need to make some big changes. To blow up the team though? Absolutely not! I can only imagine that you are talking about ditching Thornton and Marleau. If that’s the case, you are wrong. I am not saying these players are at the skill level of, but it’s like saying ditch Crosby and Malkin. I am very worried to see how the Sharks play when Thornton hangs up the skates. People who do not watch him on a nightly basis just assume he is mediocre. The man has hands! When he gets mean he is a big, heavy body on the ice.

    I think the Sharks system has gotten stale. They used to cycle circles around teams. Then they stopped. Now it’s just a mess. I think the Sharks need a new coach if they blow this series. Buy out Havlat and let Boyle walk. Sign a top 4 defenseman and they should be golden.

    • tronn25 - Apr 30, 2014 at 2:34 PM

      WIth SJ management, I wouldn’t be surprised if they hold an Instagram contest to decide the next coach. The first fan to amass 10k likes for a picture embodying what it is to be #SharksFailure gets the job.

      Your submission aside, I would cast infinity votes for you pesnzone757, as you clearly know your stuff.

      “Blow up the sharks and start recruiting, from, uh, hmmm where’s an untapped source of potential ice hockey talent… thinking… somewhere cold… Winterfell? No, that’s a fictional place. Damn…. hmmm keep thinking Pens you are better than that!”

      • titansrbeast - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:15 PM

        I think your a failure in general for using hashtags on PHT.

        That’s just me, though.

    • penszone757 - Apr 30, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      No I wouldn’t trade Thornton. He is probably the best distributor of the puck in the game but Marleau would have been expendable to me. With the likes of Hertl, Couture, and pavelski, the Sharks have some of the best goal scorers in the game. You can’t just fire the coach and expect the same cast of players to get the job done. But if the Sharks want to keep doing the exact same thing every postseason then they should just keep doing what there doing.

    • gohawks7 - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:04 PM

      Crosby and Malkin show up in big games. Jumbo and Patty have a long history of disappearing from the stat sheet….

      • gohawks7 - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:05 PM

        ….in big games.

  7. comeonnowguys - Apr 30, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    Can’t thank Stan Bowman enough for keeping Hjammer and letting Niemi go.

  8. gbart22 - Apr 30, 2014 at 2:29 PM

    I agree with another commenter if you’re going to go down you should with your number 1 goalie. He’s done it before in the past and they should have stuck with him the entire series but I’m not a fan of constant goalie switching I think it never works in the long run.

  9. bildomatic - Apr 30, 2014 at 3:27 PM

    What a mess… Going to be ugly in SJ if they can’t pull this one off on home ice…

  10. gohawks7 - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:00 PM

    It doesn’t matter who the goalie is if the Sharks don’t start playing some defense. They skate around like it’s Disney on Ice. Hit somebody…move your feet…play with some aggression…clear the guys standing in front of your goalie.

  11. aldog83 - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:19 PM

    Hoping for a freeway series.

    Hope Kings continue to play calm abd collected.

    Hope Sharks lose cool..

    Win OR Lose Proud of KINGS!

    GKG!

    • sharksman - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:40 PM

      Great comment and I agree completely except for the GKG lol
      Go Sharks
      Win or Loose Im still a Sharks fan !!

  12. gohawks7 - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:39 PM

    If they lose tonight I hope this is the slap on the face that Wilson needs to finally realize that winning in the playoffs is different than winning in the regular season. The Sharks’ style of play is too European….too soft, non-aggressive, built on quickness (passing, puck movement…not speed per se). They lack the heart that is needed to win 16 games in the playoffs. They show glimpses of it (games 1 & 2), but it wears them out. They have had a great run of regular season success….but winning in the playoffs is different. Historically, they are the team who gets the 2-0, 3-0, 3-1 lead….then needs to hang on at the end to finish the series. That’s a sign of fatigue…and playing a style of game that you aren’t used to. They also needs guys with heart….way too many guys on this team don’t show up when the team needs them most.

    • gohawks7 - Apr 30, 2014 at 4:45 PM

      If not for Torres….LA wins this series 4-1. He needs to dictate the play…hitting and aggression is contagious.

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